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AP, Media Standards Trust Propose News Microformat

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The Media Standards Trust and the Associated Press news agency want to establish a new industry-wide microformat for online news to increase readership — and therefore revenue — by improving search engine ranking and making content easier to find.

The new standard was created by AP and gives every story a brief series of metadata: a brief precis of what the story is about; a dateline of where it was written, the author’s name, any “news principles” adhered to by the publisher and whether it’s covered by usage rights.

News people may wonder what the point of this is: newspapers and online only publishers are becoming well versed in SEO, SEM and getting their articles towards the top of a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) search query. But in May Google announced that it would support microformats in Google News search results — meaning that every microformat-supported story would come with a “rich snippet” of all its metadata tags, instead of the usual one or two-line snippets. So adopting formats like these could have a positive effect on the quest to reach interested readers.

AP is testing the format via its online Web Feeds platform, the site is trialling it and MST and AP are encouraging others to adopt it. More info at the MST’s site.

Update: A Google spokesman has contacted me to point out while welcomes the initiative, it’s had talks with other publishers about their ideas too. The statement reads “Google welcomes all ideas for how publishers and search engines can better communicate about their content. We have had discussions with the Associated Press, as well as other publishers and organizations, about various formats for news. We look forward to continuing the conversation.”

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