Thursday, January 04, 2007

Mochila, AP Stories, and Avoiding the Company of Sameness

Do a search for a current news story at a popular news aggregator/search engine, and you're likely to get a large number of results. But the catch is that most of the results are likely to be the same or very close to the same, because all the news sources that have picked up the original Reuters or Associated Press wire story (and basically republished it for your convenience) are usually listed near the top.

And that's great for when you want to get a quick sense of a story or the very latest on a breaking news event. My take on the blogosphere is that it has the potential to take the reporting of major news sources and wire stories and add on-the-scene "citizen journalism," personal opinions, much needed analysis, and a glorious and occasionally stinky concoction of conversation, arguing, pontificating, punditizing, and storytelling along route.

Now a company called Mochila offers a service that allows bloggers to republish AP stories, with a three-way split of any ad revenue that results.

I think this idea is a loser in several respects. As I mentioned, there are already countless ways to get your eyeballs on AP stories. In fact, it's hard to avoid them sometimes! As a consumer of news, I want there to be fewer and better organized places to read AP stories (Newsvine is a pretty great solution if you're a wire story hound and you're looking for a community to hang out with at the same time), not more.

Further, legitimate bloggers will seldom feel compelled to republish entire articles. What's the point, aside from grabbing 30% of potential extra revenue? As Techdirt rightly points out, a prime source of business for Mochila may well be nefearious sploggers who are looking to flood the Internet with oceans of AP stories in an effort to snag search engine traffic.

I think that smart traditional media companies who will survive and thrive in the web 2.0 and post-web 2.0 era will actually eschew wire stories (because they're pervasive and therefore don't add a great deal of unique value) in favor of niche coverage, unique coverage, and value-added coverage. In other words, the traditional media world – both print and online – will co-opt the best aspects of the blogosphere. And that competition will in turn be good for the blogoshere, and so on it will go.

Therefore, my advice for bloggers is: don't get hoodwinked by the promise of a few extra cents on top of your adsense revenue. It's not worth it, and it really isn't what you got into the blogging game for in the first place. Avoid the company of sameness. Stick to writing about what you're passionate about and add something good and glorious and bold to the Internet conversation.


keith mcallister said...

Your blog about Mochila gives the impression that only content from The Associated Press is available in our marketplace. That is incorrect. Mochila currently has 150 member organizations that own and operate more than 1,500 newspapers, magazines, and websites—in addition to television and radio properties—around the world. Our membership includes some of the world’s biggest and best-known brands as well as some of the smallest and least known, English-language as well as Spanish-language. You can find great high-quality content in dozens of categories, from health to bridal to tech to the issues of working mothers. Publishers can buy this great rights-managed content a la carte or can acquire it for free by accepting advertising for which the web publisher also earns 30% of the ad revenue.

Not only can a publisher—offline or online—find an enormous diversity of content in Mochila, but any Mochila member can also syndicate their own content to our global membership. Content sellers have total control over their own licensing issues, such as pricing and who can access their content.

Joining Mochila is free and it takes just 8 days from when you apply to getting a login. I invite you to come to and consider joining Mochila.

Keith McAllister
Mochila CEO

Eric Berlin said...

Thanks for the comment, Keith. Much of the coverage surrounding the launch of Mochila's service focused on the republishing of "full text" AP stories, so that's what I chose to focus on as well.

I do see some value in a service where a publisher can both offer up its own content for others and gain the right to republish full-text content from a wide collection of content providers... However, in *most* cases I think a judicious quote or a well written restructuring of an original quote (both with attribution and link) serves best and is the foundation for how the blogosphere carries on conversations and adds value within an interactive medium.