Wednesday 20 March 2013

Breakthrough in crowdsourcing to compensate news media

It has been a long road travelled, but talks this week in Silicon Valley and New York between news media providers and social media (socmed) companies are finally drawing to a close, with insiders saying that a crowdsourcing solution that will compensate the media for links shared online is "very close".

The overall plan has been public for some time and one source said that details are still being negotiated between multiple parties including press councils, socmed and the media. It has been learned that Google will agree to develop a micropayment engine linked to the accounts of its users. Representatives from Twitter, including VP development Maurice Ecambay, say that they are ready to come in behind an agreed solution that will allow those who produce the news to be financially compensated for links shared on their microblogging site.

Talks began in earnest five months ago, in late 2023, when it became clear that efforts by the beleaguered news media industry to earn money for links shared in socmed, had found support within the broader community. Well-known blogger Henriette Smalt summed up the feeling as consensus: "People like reading stories from the MSM [mainstream media] and they understand that some form of reward should be built into the system. How that happens is the $64-dollar question."

Journalism academic and blogger Ray Gron wrote last week that Smalt had been vindicated. "She hit the nail on the head when she called for financial compensation for journalists. The multi-partisan talks underway in the US today will change the landscape for the news media. This is as big as the introduction of copyright laws in the 18th Century, or bigger."

Smalt said Gron missed the main point: it was ordinary people who deserved applause. "One blogger is basically powerless. Crowdsourcing rules."

Ecambay and Facebook senior VP business development Laura Po are expected to announce that their companies will make a formal representation to users in the near future. "Probably within the month," said Ecambay.

Google's role in the new system is considered to be key, as it will operate the micropayment engine as well as derive income from the transactions. Facebook and Twitter will also cream off a share of the income, although as in the case of Google those amounts will be very small for individual clicks.

"By next year or even in 2024 newspapers should start to see income from these micropayments going into their bank accounts," said Google media coordinator Safra Bak. "Probably earlier than later. We are working very hard to make this happen."

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