Friday, July 10, 2009

New microformat markup for news

Worth paying attention to ...

The AP, Media Standards Trust and some others are pushing for a new microformat markup scheme for online news sites stories that would provide a fair bit of new information about each item.

This would include more precise dating and location information, what republication rights are associated with the story, and a "statement of news principles" under which it was published (though the slideshow example on the Media Trust site (eighth slide in) seems pretty lame, such as "it isn't plagiarised," "the quotes aren't made up" and "there is no direct conflict of interest" - gee, ya think so?).

Part of the point of all this is that Google is now supporting the microformats in its search results.

Media Trust has a full site dedicated to this at Value Added News, complete with an example of how it can operate in copy (hint, lots of "span" tags). The hNews specification is built off hAtom, which itself is built off the Atom version of newsfeeds.

(Which then raises a question in my mind - since many news orgs use RSS and not Atom, is there a problem here? Help me out, folks. This is beyond my technical expertise.)

Things are still in development. But the question to me is how do you implement this in smaller newsrooms? Are their editorial systems up to this? Certainly, staffs are going to need a quick way to input only the minimal amount of such information, with as much as possible machine generated. This may be fine for big organizations like AP and Media Trust, but I'd like to see more discussion about how it might be implemented in community news organizations -- and that needs to be in the kind of nontechnical language that harried managers and editors in those organizations can digest quickly.

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