Publishers Form NewsRight to License Content Online

Former ABC News president Westin named CEO

There’s no question that readers' appetite for news is more voracious than ever. But as news consumption migrates online, newspapers and other major news organizations are facing huge financial challenges that threaten their news-gathering staff.

That’s the dilemma that former ABC News president David Westin set out to address last year when he became involved in developing NewsRight, an independent digital rights and content licensing organization. NewsRight launches today with an impressive list of 29 investors (including The News York Times Co., Associated Press, Hearst Newspapers and the Washington Post Co.) that together represent more than 800 websites with a combined audience of nearly 170 million readers.

“Much of the news consumption online goes to websites that themselves do not employ many—or any—reporters,” explained Westin, now president and CEO of NewsRight. “They’re using content that’s generated by the larger, more traditional sources. What we’re designed to do is recapture some of the value that’s being realized by other companies off of the original content.”

NewsRight's aim is to make it easier for publishers to control and seek licenses for their content. At the same time, it's trying to make it easier for third parties to license that content without having to negotiate separately with each news outlet. (Where relationships exist between news outlets and third-party websites, Westin said NewsRight won’t attempt to replace those but will supplement them instead.)

Using the NewsRegistry, a news measuring system developed by the AP, NewsRight will also give publishers real-time insight into how their content is being used and consumed online, and is already measuring several billion impressions a month on publishers’ content.

In addition, Westin said that the NewsRight board is discussing how they might license that information to other companies, from news aggregators to advertisers. “It’s clear to me that the news content has real value,” Westin said. “But it’s equally clear to me that the data about how the news is being consumed probably has as much value.”

NewsRight plans to begin negotiations with customers next week.