Lava Magazine: The Scoop On Scoop
Article republished with the kind permission of Lava magazine...
(See... http://lava.co.nz/features.html?id=116 for the original or, better still, buy a copy of the magazine!)
Sick of getting your news mashed up and spoonfed by Aunty Jude and Uncle Dick? Unable to concentrate on world affairs with wacky John Campbell and gorgeous Carol Hirshfeld? Rather watch the Simpsons, but need to know what's going on? Forget TV: local news is playing 24/7 on your desktop.
Scoop is a new news service that emerged from the recent bust-up over newsroom.co.nz, a web-based newswire from which subscribers receive daily updates from a database of breaking stories. Set up by former Newsroom journos Alistair Thompson and Ian Llewellyn and software engineer Andrew McNaughton, Scoop contains a combination of news, commentary, press releases and a monitor of other media. At present the site is moving around 70-80 items of news a day, with content being streamed through the email-address firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to the site from accredited organisations who self-publish.
"It's all about developing a relationship with the reader" says Thompson from Scoop HQ in Wellington, explaining the rules of e-publishing. "Scoop's interactivity - the fact that when you send an email you will likely get a human response - is a big plus. There are also rules about simplicity of display, and then the biggie- cost. People are already paying to be online - no one wants to then start paying to view, particularly when so much existing content is free".
Although the net is now mainstream media in New Zealand in terms of numbers of people with access, Thompson says it's still early days for the e-news industry.
"On an importance scale of 1 to 10, e-publishing realistically sits around 3 or 4. But if you take into account the news media's increasing reliance on e-news sources for their news: reporters using the net and email, radio news sourcing audio on the web, then the influence of e-news in the media is far greater than it appears"
As with all things net, it's an industry that offers virtually unlimited groth potential. "The fact the net is increasingly a first source of news - something Scoop is aimed particularly at achieving - and is clearly a completely superior distribution system in cost terms means it has huge growth potential. In ten years I'd say it will be fairly difficult to see the difference between TV,radio and the net: they'll all be the same thing and they will all be e-news".
Unlike the ill-fated NBR news site, Scoop offers users a hell of a lot for free. The site has news headlines, a news monitor containing summaries of other media and newswires covering business, parliament, politics, weather, science and education. There's also a dedicated Auckland wire managed by award winning journo Selwyn Manning, and an Australian wire from Scoop's Sydney office. All of this is on the Scoop site, and users can have headlines with links back to the stories e mailed to them daily.
That's the free stuff. To make a buck from the venture, Scoop offers a 'Platinum' e-news service. aimed at 'professional news users' working in law, public relations, policy, research, and similar info-driven fields. Subscribers receive NewsAgent, a customisable email news feed, access to advanced search tools and up to the hour rating information on the hot stories of the moment.
Scoop's audience has picked up fast since launch in June, faster than Thompson expected. The site is attracting 4000 page acesses a day. Next step, the inevitable ads. "The overheads of the business make it a practical proposition to finance Scoop solely on the basis of advertising and sponsorship" says Thompson. And once the advertisers are on board, the sky's the limit, with a fast growing internet news reading public, and new developments like the imminent arrival of Net TV boxes. Thompson is cautiously optimistic. "It's looking good" he allows, speaking like a seasoned journo. "It's likely to mean opportunities in this area will become increasingly available".
© Lava Magazine