Chris Porter Concluding the FreePint Topic Series - News, and Beyond
Jinfo Blog

Wednesday, 31st December 2014

By Chris Porter


Chris Porter concludes the FreePint Topic Series: News, and Beyond by highlighting key themes in the use of news, both for current awareness and for research, that have emerged from the series that he and Shimrit Janes have co-produced over the last three months.


FreePint Topic Series: News, and BeyondNews-related information services have been very much under the information buyer's microscope in recent years. As 2014 draws to a close, the FreePint Topic Series: News, and Beyond has also been taking a piercing look at the current state of the market.

Value of News

Being able to demonstrate the value of any information service is always a key challenge. Articles which can help here are "Organising andDelivering Practical Actions from News Content", with recommendations on actions to help you track not just the consumption and sharing of news but also the resulting actions; and "What's the Value of Current Awareness?", setting out attributes you may wish to measure and ways of capturing the data.

The latter article makes the telling point that data on value "has little to do with direct usage of the underlying sources or supplier platforms. In fact, if your current awareness systems are achieving objectives in end-user efficiency, you may well see that usage of the underlying sources goes down".

The article "Evaluating Premium News Services Against Free Sources" shows how an examination of the value equation led one organisation to shift budget from a generalised news aggregator (also carrying some company data) to a specialised company data provider, plus web-based news monitoring. This article is a step-by-step "how to" guide, based on recent experience.

FreePint subscribers who were lucky enough to catch the webinar "Is Our Need for News What It Used to Be?" heard a description of this and other recent vendor change journeys. Having attended the webinar myself and musing afterwards on its title, I drew my own conclusion of "yes, for a few people with very specific needs and habits; no, for the vast majority".

Current Awareness

A dominating theme of this series has been that current awareness needs and solutions are going through a major change. "Is Current Awareness Now About Personal Knowledge Management?" takes a long view of how awareness needs have been served over the decades, then posits that "In the present day users probably actually need more help with current awareness than they did", and information professionals are very well placed to provide the necessary guidance.

My series co-producer Shimrit Janes, who has marshalled a fascinating array of material on the current awareness thread, asks "Has 'Current Awareness' Become a Bloated Term?" and points to instances where information professionals have focused on providing collaboration and community tools to serve current awareness needs, rather than on news-based services.

The article "Approaches to Delivering External News on the Corporate Intranet" looks at approaches for delivering both premium and free external news within the corporate organisation, including questions of balance between internal and external content; and a recorded webinar "Right Suppliers, Right Needs: A Competitive Analysis of Suppliers" goes into specifics on some of the vendor options.

Product Reviews and Vendor Insights

FreePint Topic Series generally include plenty of detailed product insights, and the Topic Series: News, and Beyond has yielded a bumper crop, looking at aggregation services for research and for awareness, as well as supporting technologies.

We were delighted to provide a fresh product review of Dow Jones Factiva, for the first time since 2012. The review includes, as ever, FreePint's assessment of the value of the service, plus insights into future product plans, and reviewer Andrew Grave comments that the vendor "is now concentrating on meeting the needs of its core user base. It has made strong enhancements in content and functionality since the last FreePint product review".

Keep your eyes peeled too for a forthcoming in-depth look at Nexis, catching up on latest changes; and meanwhile you can check out a product review of BBC Monitoring Library, a fully searchable English-language database covering media sources in more than 150 countries.

Another service bridging both research and awareness needs is This vendor has clearly been riding the waves of change in the market over the last couple of years and the latest FreePint review notes many enhancements in content and functionality since our last detailed examination back in early 2012.

LexisNexis Publisher is a professional current awareness solution which allows users to select premium content from LexisNexis databases and external sources and to deliver it via intranets, websites, email, mobile devices and more. 

Both NewsEdge and fellow aggregator Northern Light, in a Q&A, stress that they are now seeing marked changes in attitude towards web-based news. LexisNexis comments on the same theme in talking about the drivers behind its acquisition of Moreover.

Moving to technology-centric approaches, a Q&A with Attensa gives their take on tackling critical current awareness challenges, with special reference to content and knowledge analytics; and another with Linex talks about how their content-agnostic platform handles the issue of disaggregation, where publishers wish to maintain a direct commercial relationship, but buyers and users want content to be intermingled.

Other Issues

Two articles in the series look deeply into specialist news offerings for particular industries, one focusing on news offerings for the pharma sector and another on the legal sector.

The difficulties of taming foreign language sources are also examined. Another perennial area of concern under scrutiny is issues of copyright for current awareness - complete with highly practical tips and links to further resources, plus advice on what copyright issues you need to consider when selecting content and redistributing it internally.

FreePint Research and Consulting

One of the highlights of the FreePint year is the publication of the annual News Survey Analysis. Masterminded by FreePint's director of research Robin Neidorf and now in its seventh year, this is a must-read for any information manager with an interest in news needs and preferences.

As ever, Robin's analysis of the survey data provides fascinating insights. The analysis maps the changing importance of particular features and functions in the minds and wallets of buyers, illustrates which are the most-used primary and secondary services in the market, and charts how satisfied (or not) buyers are with their main vendors.

Its five key sections are Premium News Content and Preferences; Purchase Criteria and Integration; Key Suppliers and Satisfaction; A Look at Non-Cost Resources; and finally A Closer Look at News Use-Cases and Value.

FreePint is very much here to provide practical tools and advice to information buyers, so in addition to the survey analysis above, don't miss the "Sell Side of News - Today's Competitive Landscape". The first part sums up what companies want from their news providers in the context of the changing landscape of news needs and suppliers,  then a second instalment here summarises some specific vendor options for current awareness.

This Blog Item is part of the FreePint Topic Series: News, and Beyond.

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