HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The newsonomics of auctioning off Digital First’s newspapers (and California schemin’)
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 10, 2009, 8:25 p.m.

The Guardian ups the ante on APIs

The New York Times was the first major newspaper to take its cue from Google and open up its data via an API (which stands for application programming interface). In a nutshell, this allows developers to write programs that can automatically access the New York Times database, within certain limits, and use that data in mashups, etc. Now the Guardian newspaper in Britain has upped the ante: not only has it opened its data up via an API, but it has also done two things that the NYT has not — namely, it provides the full text of its articles to users of the API (while the Times restricts developers to an excerpt only) and it also allows the data to be used in for-profit ventures, while the Times restricts its data to non-profit purposes.

As Shafqat at NewsCred notes on his blog, these two differences are pretty important, and I would argue that the Guardian has really put its money where its mouth is in terms of turning its paper into a platform (to use the title of a blog post I wrote when the NYT came out with its open API). Not to denigrate what the Times has done at all, mind you — an API of any kind is a huge leap, and one that many newspapers likely wouldn’t have the guts to take, limits or no limits. But to provide full-text access to all Guardian news articles going back to 1999, and to allow all of this data and more to be used in profit-making ventures as well, takes the whole effort to another level entirely.

Instead of becoming just a platform for non-profit services and features that make use of text excerpts, the Guardian effectively becomes a platform for anything that might use content from its stories or other data. But it does so with an interesting catch: If a company wants to use all of the data and charge money for the purpose, the Guardian reserves the right to display its own advertising alongside that content. In effect, this aspect of its API offering — if it comes to fruition on any kind of sustained level — could create a whole new source of revenue for the company, by using other content providers and service providers as a distribution method (Jeff Jarvis calls APIs “the future of content distribution”).

Risky? Definitely. But as anyone who follows the newspaper business surely knows by now, this is not a time for half measures. Challenging times require bold steps, and the Guardian’s move is a bold one indeed. It will be fascinating to watch this experiment, and to see whether any other newspapers decide to join the open API parade.

POSTED     March 10, 2009, 8:25 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
The newsonomics of auctioning off Digital First’s newspapers (and California schemin’)
More than 200 newspapers are up for sale — as one group, in clusters, or one by one. Where they go could have a big impact on how the industry will look in the coming years.
Could a Bay Area news nonprofit take over some of its biggest newspapers?
There are plenty of reasons for it not to happen. But news nonprofits could end up being vehicles for civic-minded locals to take over dailies as they continue to drop in value.
Through The Wire: What happened with The Atlantic’s experiment in aggregation?
The Atlantic invested years and money into figuring out what they wanted The Wire to be. Now, after relaunching and promising reinvestment, the site is being brought back under the wing of its parent.
What to read next
751
tweets
Wearables could make the “glance” a new subatomic unit of news
“The audience wants to go faster. This can’t be solved with responsive design; it demands an original approach, certainly at the start.”
677Designer or journalist: Who shapes the news you read in your favorite apps?
A new study looks at how engineers and designers from companies like Storify, Zite, and Google News see their work as similar — and different — from traditional journalism.
594Ken Doctor: Guardian Space & Guardian Membership, playing the physical/digital continuum
The Guardian is making its biggest bet on memberships and events by renovating a 30,000 square foot space to host live activities in the heart of London.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Placeblogger
DocumentCloud
Tribune Publishing
California Watch
Gotham Gazette
Quartz
The Fiscal Times
Current TV
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Outside.in
Chicago News Cooperative
E.W. Scripps