publish2
As reported on this site before, Publish2, a site and application developed to promote 'link journalism' in newsrooms, believes in the collaborative efforts of journalists from rival publications. Its co-founder and CEO Scott Karp believes that for a 'link economy' to function, news content must be openly accessible and easy to share.

Publish2 provides a free service for journalists and newsrooms to save, share, and publish links to the best content on the web. It is confident it can move forward, and recently announced its 'Digital Sunlight' feature and the appointments of three new members, two to staff and one to the board.

However, Publish 2's philosophy is one increasingly rejected by mainstream media management. Rupert Murdoch today announced that NewsCorp content could be moved behind paid walls in order to fix a ­'malfunctioning' business model; while chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, Carolyn McCall, this week suggested that certain specialist parts of Guardian.co.uk could eventually become subscriber-only.

These revelations follow the recent launch of Journalism Online, a proposition to help mainstream media monetise content; and the Associated Press management team's promise that it will crack down on the people who used the agency's content for free.

Here, eight months on from its launch, Journalism.co.uk profiles Publish2 - a company based on the premise of free content, in a world where the big players are calling for paid and closed content.

Where is Publish2 at?
Over 5,000 registered journalists and over 100 different news organisations, using Publish2 in various forms.

What kind of forms?
"What we've seen is collaboration, first off within in the newsroom. What news organisations are finding is they can no longer afford to keep someone reporting the same story that someone else in the region is already covering. The key way to find efficiencies is to collaborate - it yields a huge amount of efficiency," Publish2 co-founder and CEO, Scott Karp tells Journalism.co.uk.

Any specific examples?

The Washington State flooding in January 2009 is one [Journalism.co.uk article here at this link]: four different web editors from four different media companies started to coordinate a web effort - linking to each others' material - and all published off the same feed.

But doesn't this go against the grain of the traditionally rivalrous spirit between different news organisations?
"A lot of the biases are coming undone. All the scared cows being taken outside and being shot - everything is coming apart at the seams," Karp says.

"Every media company is trying to do what they've always done, which is within their monolith, within their silo, do it themselves. But they realise they've got no economies of scale anymore, which is why if they connect together in a loosely affiliated network, they can have a lot more economic, or pricing power."

For Karp, it's about organisations 'looking to the idea of collaboration'. "Collaboration is very different from collusion," he says.

"There's a lot of stories out there to be reported but there's a lot less manpower now to find them. In order to keep doing the core things they're doing, they have to find more efficiencies.

"You already have a lot of newsrooms in the US starting to share content. Even though it's driven by a negative necessity - it has at least broken through the wall of competition."

So, they share - how does that look when they use Publish2?
Enlighten us on Digital Sunlight?
It's a more structured way for journalists to collaborate with citizens, Karp explains.

"What we're building is a citizen journalism system that builds out of our core system: tips, leads about what journalists are researching. People can engage if they actually help you do the reporting.

"The front-end is an embeddable web form, which allows our users to embed it on a topic page or a specific story. Then it will go into a searchable database.

"One advantage is the ability to add metadata to it - tags; geographical locations to allow search - whereas on Twitter there is almost no metadata."

An example, so we can see what it looks like?

They are baking as fast as they can and will have an update shortly, Ryan Sholin reports on the blog.

But projects such as the Stimulus newswire, which shows how links are 'framed around a big story in the US', shows just the kind of subject matter Digital Sunlight intends to build on.

What about the usual arguments posited against citizen-sourced media?
"This is saying 'then don't make it an end in itself'. [Make sure] That you do follow up on; you do verify; that you don't actually publish unless you do the basic reporting on it," Karp argues.

"Just like if someone sent you an email you don't put it straight on your blog - you try and verify it."

How will it continue to sustain a free service for journalists without the aid of start-up funding? 

Paid-for accounts for PR clients on Publish2 are a possibility, Karp says, adding that 'the world of PR, which is like every other industry, is going through its own crisis'.

"What we want to do is bring money into the ecosystem, which will flow to journalists too. Rather than money flowing from news organisations to us, we've got the money flowing in the other direction." 

The PR idea is presently at a 'conceptual' stage, Karp says, but, 'one basic outline in paid accounts is looking at providing commercial entities with same kind of aggregation tools that are provided to the journalists'.

"And so, if an advertiser was trying to create a certain strand of news and associate themselves with it, journalists might find that useful. Consumers might find that useful as well."

Journalism.co.uk has recently featured a series of articles about journalism in New York: watch out for the tag 'JournalismNY' for a range of features.

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