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World Reporter Reduces Content; Three-Party Contract Not Renewed
Posted On February 4, 2002
The 5-year contract among the Financial Times (FT), Dialog, and Dow Jones to create the World Reporter database expired on December 31, 2001 and was not renewed by the three parties, effectively ending the database.

Major changes in ownership and focus are responsible. When the three information companies originally signed the agreement, World Reporter was to be available on FT Profile (then owned by the Financial Times, now absorbed into LexisNexis), Dialog (then owned by Knight Ridder, now owned by Thomson), and Dow Jones (now part of Factiva, a Dow Jones Reuters company). World Reporter, still a Financial Times property, in its heyday provided both the full-text of English-language publications and English-language abstracts of non-English-language publications. The original contract specified that each party would contribute data. FT supplied Asia Intelligence Wire, Middle East Intelligence Wire, a portion of FT McCarthy, and Extel company news. Knight Ridder supplied its Knight Ridder Tribune Business News (KRTBN), and Dow Jones chipped in with its Dow Jones News Service.

World Reporter, not part of the deal with LexisNexis, is still produced by the Financial Times Data Factory, which was also retained by FT. The January 18 edition of The Wall Street Journal Europe reported that Pearson, plc, parent company to FT, intends to lay off 65 employees and scale back the database as a result of the distribution contract expiration. Most of these workers are in the abstracting unit. According to Alison Parker, general manager of FTIS, the section of FT that runs the Data Factory, abstracting and manual indexing are being reduced, but the Factory will still process over 100,000 articles per week. Key non-English-language European business sources from France, Italy, Germany, and Spain will continue to be abstracted. Dow Jones is no longer contributing its News Service.

On the receiving end, a Factiva spokesperson indicated that the company is no longer adding content from World Reporter. This isn't surprising, as several European observers finger Factiva as the primary company that balked at renewing the original contract. According to the Web site (click on "Content Watch" under "Features"), the company notes that as of December 31, 2001, there will be no new content from World Reporter added and the backfile has been deleted. This is a loss to Factiva of 97 sources. Replacing it is Factiva News Digests with 53 sources, including local papers from countries such as Albania, Poland, and the United Arab Emirates. The entire list of dropped publications is in Content Watch.

Dialog carried World Reporter as File 20; on DataStar it had the file name REPO. The new name for both is Dialog Global Reporter, and it's now described as a joint venture between Dialog and Financial Times Information.

According to David Brown, who presides over content licensing for Dialog, the file is being "reconstituted." He said, "We have a line of supply that continues." Dialog still receives the feed from the FT Data Factory—although Brown acknowledges it is smaller than it was—and will augment it with full text from European Intelligence Wire (EIW), which was formerly known as FT McCarthy. This will be the complete feed, rather than the portion previously included in World Reporter.

With additional licensing deals, Brown expects Dialog to add 60 full-text, mostly European news sources to Dialog Global Reporter in the next month. Some titles in EIW include The Economist, The Guardian, Investor's Chronicle, and Les Echos. "We're still working out details, but our focus is on full text, not abstracts," he said. The archival information will remain on Dialog but the file will have a different character going forward. If Dialog Global Reporter "reconstitutes" itself as full text, it's likely to lose its insights into news from non-English-language sources.

The full text of the Financial Times itself was added to the Dialog system in 2001, a complete turnaround from FT's pulling out of third-party distribution deals a few years ago. Although most searchers applaud having sources in as many places as possible, they also wish that Pearson would make up its corporate mind on the issue of exclusivity.

LexisNexis was never part of the original World Reporter contract. However, following its purchase of FT Business Information Services, it inherited a great deal of content from FT sources¾and it never actually lost the full text of the Financial Times, although it was certainly touch and go at times. Plus, over the past 5 years it initiated its own contracts with some of World Reporter's data suppliers. The bulk of what was the World Reporter database, now licensed to LexisNexis as Global NewsWire, will remain. With an aggressive European direct licensing strategy under way, LexisNexis expects to add "a significant number of new European news sources" this year. With some 2,500 newspapers online, many of them in non-English languages, LexisNexis continues its strong presence in the international news world. As with Dialog, however, the lack of English-language renditions of non-English-language sources—a gap previously filled by World Reporter—will have an effect on the well-roundedness of its offerings.

Marydee Ojala is the editor-in-chief of Online Searcher magazine, chairs WebSearch University, and is Program Development Director for Enterprise Search & Discovery.

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