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For newspapers: Three sources of value at stake


On Friday, consultant Steve Mott outlined his functional requirements grid and said he thought it would be possible to build the Information Valet Service near term. Here are excerpts.

  • Steve Mott: Three sources of value added are at stake for journalism. The grid suggests ways you can leverage that. The three sources of value that are challenged today:
  1. Newspapers traditionally took content and associated that with meaning. Now the need is to tie concepts to meaning.
  2. Clear asset that newspapers have is local intelligence and coverage. There is danger that Google sees that too and will go to commoditize that as fast as it can. In the election there was a deer-in-headlines reaction in some communities, rural vs. urban, etc.
  3. MSM potentially has the ability to empower the consumer and their communities in the process. What we learned from the bloggosphere -– we got better info and better interpretations than we did from the MSM. Some of it distressingly, at the margin, was amazingly inaccurate –- e.g., Barak the “Muslim”. This creates the danger is that there will be push to legislate the notion of truth. Yet you can get tremendous amounts of information from casting out to the community . . . "If I’d had that 30 years ago I’d still be in journalism.”
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Regarding the chart (at right): What is it we would build if we could and what would it do if we could build it? He ticks off the components on the chart. We have most of that stuff or will likely to be able to conceive if it from likely providers. But for No. 9, the “other” column, he doesn’t see the notion of where the content is generated and served. If we could build the utility -- it would be most valuable to the people who can’t build it themselves.

If the New York Times can do it themselves, they may not want to share it with the industry. But are there are 17,000 other smaller newspapers and outfits who might be happy to be associated with this as a utility? There are some interesting companies out there.

Look at e-Rewards. They do topical surveys you can opt into and they ask you for your list of companies who will send offers to you. That’s happening today. It’s not rocket science. The news industry is missing an opportunity. WebLoyalty is willing to do an upsell and build a system for anybody who is willing to do it. Think about providing bounties –- why couldn’t MSM/news organizations do that as a justification for building this out?

Mott says if he were to put it to a VC: I don’t have any problem saying is it possible to build this out. It would be very possible to put this together near term –- especially serving the smaller newspapers –- that is your longterm means of differentiation . . . and use Jeff VanderClute's stuff to get to the concept and meaning. People have their own content they want to monetize. The elements are readily available if the non-big guys in the industry are willing to federate and do it.


  • Greg Schermer: There may be more opportunity for federation than you think. As for the money not much left around.
  • Charles Andres: They are talking about a Best Buy loyalty card. InfoCard would provide trusted, verified privacy mechanism. It represents existing plumbing in that area. You would have to consider what you would want to search on what users are doing.