Associated Press, together with the Media Standards Trust, introduced hNews, a new microformat for describing news content. HNews allows publishers to easily attach machine-readable news semantics to content on the web. Today, the AP announced the completion of the first draft of hNews. In addition, TownNews, announced that is will support hNews in its BLOX content management system, which is being used by over 1,500 newspapers in the US.Earlier this year, the
The hNews Microformat
HNews, which is an extension of the hAtom format, only requires content users to specify information about the source organization. In addition, publishers can specify geo-information, a dateline element, license information and information about the code of ethics that governed the behavior of the author of a given site. At its most basic level, hNews, just like other microformats like hCard or hCalendar, allows search engines spiders to identify and read semantic information that would otherwise be buried within a text and would be hard to identify for search engines.
The Good and the Bad
The hNews Schema
It's noteworthy that the AP, which has had a rather contemptuous relationship with the Internet, would push this standard, which would only make it easier for search engines and mash-up tools to discover and classify content. At the same time, though, hNews is also a central part of the AP's controversial 'news registry' project, which is meant to track AP content across the web and to make sure that it is not misappropriated.
While the hNews microformat is definitely an interesting development, we can't help but wonder about its role in the AP registry project. Today's hNews press release makes no mention of this project (unlike the press release that announced the registry), so there is some hope that the AP has given up on this scheme or is at least trying to downplay hNews' importance in it.