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Last modified: May 04, 1999
News Markup Language (NML)

As of January 1999, an XML-based News Markup Language (NML) was under development through the effort of the American Press Institute's Media Center.

The proposed XML-based News Markup Language (NML) moved "a little closer to completion by a group of more than a dozen participants of The Media Center's Grammar Conference in Dallas on January 8, [1999]. The group developed a series of forty (40) tags and a five-item 'to do' list to prepare a test version of the NML for a February 1 deadline. In developing the tags for NML, the group recommended that the tags be as descriptive as possible, since the length of the tag will not affect how it works. A follow-up meeting to discuss progress of the NML project will be at the E&P Interactive Newspapers Conference, February 17-20 in Atlanta. . . nothing is written in stone at this point, so suggestions are not only welcomed, but encouraged." A simple example of the 'news markup language' is included in the American Press Institute's Grammar Conference documentation.

As of March 1999, an effort was underway to incorporate the NML tag initiative into the NITF DTD. On NITF, see "News Industry Text Format (NITF)."

In April 1999, a decision was made to merge NML into NITF: "At a meeting among newspapers, wire services, vendors and people from other organisations it was decided to enhance NITF with some additional features to incorporate the wishes from the NML community." [Christian Ratenburg]


  • American Press Institute Media Center Home Page

  • NML DTD Version 1, 1999-02-12. For 'Experimental Use Only'. [local archive copy]

  • "Markup language for news could empower editors, enrich content, lower costs." By Jay Small. [local archive copy]

  • "Informational update on the status of NML." By Glenn Cruickshank, The Salt Lake Tribune. With photos. [local archive copy, text w/o photos]

  • [May 04, 1999] "News Industry Organizations Unite Behind a Single Standard Markup Language." - "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."

  • "Proposal to incorporate the NML tag initiative into the NITF DTD." By Glenn Cruickshank, Director, Tribune Solutions. Revised March 05, 1999. "In January of 1999, the American Press Institute hosted a Media Center Grammar Conference in Dallas TX to discuss the need for a news markup language within the newspaper industry. This group, consisting of representatives from a number of US newspaper chains, universities and API, developed a list of 40 tags which they felt were needed to identify journalistic content in news stories. Members of this first group, called the API Grammarians, enlarged on this tag set and developed a preliminary tag proposal and partial DTD. On February 16, 1999, in Atlanta, GA, they met with a group from the NAA Wire Service Committee and several other systems vendors and discussed whether to merge the NML effort into the NITF DTD. The author, a member of the NAA committee, was asked to align the NML tags with the NITF standard, and propose changes to the NITF to include the intent of the NML tags that were not supported in the current release of NITF. This document is that merger proposal." [local archive copy, 1999-03-18]

  • Memorandum to API Grammarians - Memorandum from the Tagging Team. Report prepared by Kathy Foley and Tom Johnson. Preliminary Thoughts on Journalism Tag Schema. Date: 02/03/99. The memo outlines the design objectives of the proposed "flexible but universal markup language." - "What follows are the first-pass thoughts of the tagging sub-group of the API Grammarians who met in Dallas Jan. 7-8, 1999. Participants on the tag-team were: Kathy Foley (Editor, Information Services-San Antonio Express-News ); Tom Johnson (Prof. of Journalism - San Francisco State University ); Alan Karben ( Associate Director, Interactive Development, The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition ); B. C. Krishna (FutureTense - ); Chris Ryan (Freedom Forum Fellow - University of Kansas ); Dennis Walsh ( Co-Head of the Interactive Media Center, Miami University of Ohio ); Chris Willis (Senior Editor/Technology & Design - A. H. Belo Corp ); Steve Yelvington (Editor, Star-Tribune Online ); MTK." local archive copy]

  • [January 1999] Provisional list of NML tags/elements [local archive copy]

  • News Markup Language Example [local archive copy]

  • [March 18, 1999] "News Markup Language Quickly Gains Advocates. Universal Standards Are Being Developed." By Martha L. Stone. In Editor & Publisher Interactive (March 17, 1999). "Creating a standardized news industry markup language has grown from a simple idea to the subject of widespread international interest in less than six months. The concept -- designed to save time and money for publishers by formatting news copy only once for use in a variety of mediums -- grew out of an American Press Institute seminar last fall [1998 called 'Grammar for New Media.' In recent months, the project has gained cooperation with a key international organization and major publishing vendors. Chris Feola, director of the Media Center of American Press Institute in Reston, Va., has led the vanguard group, which has created a set of 40 tags, or codes, to enable individual newspapers to streamline production so that copy is coded once, and used many times. 'News Markup Language opens up possibilities of aggregating data on the fly,' Feola says. 'It could put together what documents were critical, timely - a set of briefs, assembling timelines - things that we do to build out an article'."

  • [January 19, 1999] "News Markup Language May be Spoken Soon. The Web-based Initiative Could Affect Print and Broadcast Too. [Beyond Classifieds.]" By Martha L. Stone. In Editor & Publisher Interactive (January 19, 1999). "The creation of a 'news markup language' - born out of the need to streamline production for news Web sites - could have efficiency and cost-savings implications for media operations with print, broadcast or other delivery methods. The development also signals a move toward print, online and broadcast newsrooms working more closely together in the future. . . When this group of print, online and news library managers and academics [American Press Institute's 'Grammar of New Media'] met again earlier this month in Dallas, they created some 40 'tags' or computer codes that designate the nuts and bolts of almost every story. Tags were developed for bylines, captions, nut paragraphs, headlines, persons quoted in the story, names of books, and so on. Though the tags would exist industry wide, the specifications for the tags could be customized for each news outlet. The language would be written in the XML code, which is a flexible markup language based on plain language."

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