According to the FT this morning Bloomberg and Dow Jones are both adding staff to their Newswire operations – in Bloomberg’s case including 100 journalists. On the other hand newspapers are, as we know, shedding people and shutting down.
This makes sense to me as we still need journalists, but increasingly newspapers aren’t able to employ them. Newswire groups on the other hand can sell stories more easily via the web. The FT suggests that the newswires are hoping to build internet based direct to consumer businesses which I think might be tough for them, but selling content on an item by item basis to web publishers could well work.
One of the side effects of the transition to web delivery of content is that the historic practice of packaging stories/songs/TV programmes into easy to deliver bundles (papers/albums/TV channels) is coming to an end. The logic for the bundling was all about distribution in a physical and scarce broadcast spectrum world. As the cost of distribution heads lower the economic reasons for bundling get weaker. The shift from papers to newswires can be understood in this context.
That said, I’m not a big fan of newswires. Informed largely by Nick Davies Flat Earth News I am a little worried that journalists they hire will be forced to prioritise the quantity of produce over quality (i this a good source?). Ultimately I guess that it is down to the newswires’ customers, the web sites, to insist on quality. Hopefully keep an eye on the matter and be prepared to pay more for better articles (or refuse the poor ones).