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Major news industry organizations have united behind a single standard language for news markup, opening a gateway for easily moving news articles to the Internet and beyond.
For consumers, the benefits could include more news available more quickly in more formats, such as on cellular phones, personal digital assistants, and the World Wide Web.
For producers, the immediate benefits of News Industry Text Format --the NITF -- include lower editing and transmission costs while making it easy to repackage news for publication in multiple media.
By settling upon a single markup language, news organizations can share news articles and graphics among print, broadcast, electronic, Internet and archive systems without the need for costly translations and manual editing. Using a language that embraces the latest internationally accepted standards assures newspapers and broadcasters that stories can flow unimpeded between their news systems and the Internet.
The rich suite of NITF tags also allows Internet surfers, librarians and archivists to target their searches more accurately, reducing wasted time and effort when perusing vast archives of news text.
The Newspaper Association of America, the Media Center at the American Press Institute and the International Press Telecommunications Council have endorsed the NITF. The Radio-Television News Directors Association previously announced its support.
The Associated Press is developing NITF products. Reuters has also been instrumental in formulating NITF. "Other news agencies outside North America already have NITF-based products," said David M. Allen, managing director of the International Press Telecommunications Council.
The NITF is an XML-compliant set of tags that allow reporters, editors and archivists to mark important parts of articles -- names of newsmakers, for example -- so that search engines and databases can automatically find and process information to build indexes, make automatic links or insert typographic information. Publishing and editing information can also be included for quality control and to expedite automatic processes. Wire stories will contain NITF tags, allowing news organizations to better sort and search the flood of wire stories that arrive each day.
The announcements were the result of a joint newspaper industry meeting held in Dallas on April 23, 1999. Organizations represented included the Newspaper Association of America, International Press Telecommunications Council, The Media Center at the American Press Institute, The Associated Press, Reuters, The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, A.H. Belo, Neue Zurcher Zeitung, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Salt Lake Tribune. Representatives of San Francisco State University's department of journalism and several news system vendors also attended, including WavePhore Newscast of Dallas, Tribune Solutions of Salt Lake City, Via International, CCI Europe of Denmark and Intype Inc. of Seattle.
"We spend an enormous amount of time and money supporting over 150 different news formats in our archive products," said Glenn Cruickshank, director of Tribune Solutions, creator of the NewsView archive product line. "NITF makes our life enormously easier and our customers can spend more time improving their content rather than converting data."
"It makes sense, business-wise, because NITF has allowed us to spend more time on adding value to the benefit of our customers" said Christian Ratenburg, product manager of CCI Europe.
"NITF allows us to deliver a lot of power and simplicity to Web news publishers," said Bob Gale, senior program manager for Intype, Inc. whose Handoff product uses NITF to convert, manage and publish news content on the Web.
"The NITF is evidence that the news industry is evolving into the Information Age," said Christopher J. Feola, Director of the Media Center at the American Press Institute (http://www.mediacenter.org), which organized the meeting.
The News Industry Text Format is admininistered by the International Press Telecommunications Council, based in England. NITF information is available at http://www.iptc.org/iptc.
29 April 1999.