The 20th century news and stock ticker used to be one of the most archetypal images of newsrooms all around the world. It was timely and exciting, if a bit impersonal, for editors to watch the wires for breaking news from the big news syndicates and select stories to run in the local paper. That ticker doesn't print everything out any more, though, and a constant stream of news is something that millions of consumers now see for themselves inside their RSS feed readers.

How are newspapers adapting to digital syndication? Today the Associated Press announced that more than 500 newspapers are using their service called the AP Member Marketplace. To web savvy consumers, the Marketplace might look like an RSS reader that publishes selected stories to a webpage built out of badges. It's a pretty interesting program.

The Interface

The AP Marketplace interface looks like a sophisticated, multi-media RSS reader but with limited sources. Publishers set up a workflow that lets editors send selected media items directly from the reader out onto the paper's website.

Below, the AP newsreader, click to view full screen image.

It's very reminiscent of of the CMS built by the Crowd Fusion team, which we profiled last week. There's one huge difference though between the AP's project and things like the Crowd Fusion project, the red-hot world of cool-hunting aggregation and even the new publishing strategy of web giants like Yahoo and AOL. The AP service finds and publishes AP stories, not content from around the whole web.

There was a time when it must have been hard to imagine getting more news to choose from than what the wires brought publishers each day. That time has passed and while the small Midwestern US newspapers that the AP highlights as happy users of the Marketplace may be on board - it's hard to say how for how long readers will remain excited about AP fueled news websites. Especially once they discover a little more about how the internet works. (We don't mean to be critical of Mid Westerners, they were just the demographic of several AP demo sites.)

The online research tools used by financial professionals, for example, could probably slap this service both ways to Sunday before it knew which way was up. The AP says, though, that many local papers find their readers overjoyed with the breadth of topical AP content published to content sections or niche websites.

Left: The North West Arkansas biker scene had nothing like this news site before the AP Exchange came to town, the AP says. This kind of site does look like a good idea for everyone.

Training Component

One very interesting part of the AP Marketplace is that it's very search-centric and the wire service offers weekly 30 minute-long classes in online search skills. The AP Exchange School of Search is a great idea.

Not all parts of the program are working well, admittedly. The Exchange "blog" and community on Ning are dead, for example. Perhaps early participants learned enough to escape out into the web at large.

News Publishing Around the Web

A year ago media analyst Jeff Jarvis wrote an excellent post about what Editor 2.0 jobs are shaping up to look like. Two years ago we wrote here about some of the exciting things that AP competitor Reuters is doing. [Disclosure, the Reuters semantic web project Calais is now an RWW sponsor.] The media business blog PaidContent says that the AP Marketplace/Exchange service is pitted against new aggregation services explicitely aimed at replacing the AP, like Politico.

It's a time of deep change in the news media world and though we love the feel of a good local paper and its website - their ongoing success cannot be taken for granted. Tools like the AP Exchange look like a great step to take and we enjoy getting to see what the RSS reader equivalent is inside hundreds of local newsrooms.