AP Works Toward Universal Online News Format

The Associated Press, along with fellow non-profit The Media Standards Trust, on Friday unveiled a digital news "microformat" to effectively encapsulate the content and key meta-data of every news story online.

In turn, the AP and The Media Standards Trust -- a UK-based research and development group devoted to fostering higher standards in news -- are calling on news organizations worldwide to adopt more consistent news formats for online content.

The proposed "microformat" would include what a story is about; where it was written; who wrote it; where it was published; the news principles it adheres to; and any usage rights associated with it.

"We think this news format extends microformat efforts to date, by applying the basic principles of simplicity, reuse and semantic presentation specifically for news content," said Todd Martin, vice president of technology development at the AP.

The system, developed by the AP and The Media Standards Trust, is non-proprietary, open-source and intended to become a standard to be used by anyone producing news content.

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The proposed microformat is already being piloted by openDemocracy.net -- a human rights and democracy news forum -- and is being tested on all AP text content. News stories are available in the new format via the AP Developer API, which also is in beta testing, and AP's Web Feeds platform, an Internet-based distribution platform for AP.

In May, Google announced that it would be supporting microformats and using some of the additional metadata in its search snippets.

The Media Standards Trust has launched a Value Added News site to coordinate discussion of the proposed news formats, host technical specifications, explain the benefits and detail how other organizations can integrate news formats into their own content.

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