Like any other commodity, News is also available for sale in a wholesale quantity. You may have come across newly-launched news portal websites, newspapers, and channels, but did you ever noticed that how come these new publishers are publishing news from all over the country, that too in all categories like current affairs, politics, lifestyle, entertainment, sports, science and everything else.
Is it because they have received huge funding or investment through which they have employed hundreds of news reporters & writers all over the country? No, they are simply buying the news in the form of text, photo, video, audio and graphics from a wholesaler called a ‘News Agency’ or ‘News Wire Agency’ or ‘Wire Service’.
You must have seen words like ANI, UNI, IANS, PTI, Reuters, Associated Press many times while reading an article or watching a news video or an interview.
News agencies have hundreds and thousands of stringer reporters, at every taluka in every district of India. That means if anything happens in a small place, they have their reporter who would reach that place in less than 1 hour and shoot video, collect information, write it down and send it to the head office. These are freelancers who also write in the local newspapers and work for news agency on a coverage basis.
Let’s say you started a news organisation and you want to focus on a website and a youtube channel.
So what you do is buy a news package from the news agencies depending upon your budget. There are various packages offered by them. For example, if you buy a full package that includes around 300 stories daily including the rights to use photos and videos. This monthly package would cost you between Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000 per month. If you want a half package it would cost around 25,000 to 30,000. Maybe you can buy a customized package if you just want to use text and images, without any videos. Some news agencies do not offer any customisation, there is just one package that includes everything.
Now the question is, do every news publisher simply does copy and paste the text and images they receive from the news agencies.
Here is how it works.
Let’s say you received a piece of news from the news agency at 2.30 pm. The news has a title, a photo of a politician called Mr Samant Barde, along with a text of what he said in an interview about a highway accident.
Now different stories can be created out of this piece of news.
Here are some of the title examples for the articles.
‘Complete Negligence, Says Sawant Barde’
‘Sawant Barde Made This Statement for the Highway Accident’
‘Sawant Barde Raises Questions’
‘Opposition Demands Answers to Sawant Barde’s Statement’
‘Sawant Barde Assures Families of Those Killed’
Some would copy the news text as it is and publish it on their website or newspaper. Some will take few paragraphs and add few lines of their own opinion and then publish it. Some would give a completely new angle to this news and write a completely different story altogether. But one thing that everybody will do is not use the same title given by the news agency. But still, there will be few who copy the title also. That is why many times you find that the title of the articles is the same on many websites.
Giving a byline to the news agency below or in the middle of the article is mandatory and it is well defined in the yearly contract the news organisation signs with the news agency.
That is why you see lines like ‘With inputs from ANI’ or ‘As reported by PTI’ or ‘This news is taken from a news feed, only the title has been changed’ or ‘Source: IANS’.
Sometimes if the article contains some sentences written by the writer of that article, I mean the one working with the news organisation. The byline will be ‘By Aparna Desai/PTI’
If there is a video, you will find that the news reporter holding the microphone has the name of that agency on it. The news organisation will put an intro clip of few seconds at the beginning and the end of the video for their branding and publicity.
So how does the news organisation receive news from the news agencies?
Well, they are given multiple options.
1) RSS Feeds: The news organisation is given an RSS feeds link, which they can visit manually, or integrate into RSS reading software, wherein as soon as the news agency publishes a piece of news, this software sends a notification of a new item.
2) Software or a Plugin: The same RSS feeds link is incorporated into the software or a plugin in the backend of the news website. That means whenever there is a piece of new news, they not only get a notification, but they can immediately publish the article as it is or with a change in title. Usually, this part is handled by a dedicated editor who controls this, I mean who can come up with a new title in few seconds before hitting that publish button. The title could be tweaked a little using commas, hyphen and more. The software also allows you to edit the text of the article. You can add your line, delete some existing line, whatever you want. It’s a publishing machine. All you have to do is use your brain to simply change the title a little bit so that your news organisation does not look like an idiot.
3) Control Panel: The news agency provides you with their control panel, where you get everything on their dashboard as and when a piece of new news is available. Here is where you can also get customized RSS feeds for various categories. So for example, if your website focuses only on the Entertainment industry, and you just want news pieces on entertainment and related, here you can do so.
Some news companies or publishers will buy news packages from more than one news agencies.
Similarly, if you are a new startup, they consider a discount for the first year. Once you grow and expand, you then start appointing your reporters for exclusive stories. But generally, every news organisation in this world is dependent on news agencies that provide the content for publishing on their news websites, newspapers, TV channels, YouTube channels, and podcasts.
The purpose of writing this article is to encourage you all to read news stories directly from the first source, that is the news agency, instead of reading the article which is fried with a heavy masala.
Not all news agencies allow you to read their full articles for free, but most of them do allow you to read the title and few lines of the news piece. But there’s a way around to this. Just copy the title and google it, you will find some publishers who have automated their publishing software in a way that publishes each and every article coming from that News Agency they have paid for. Bingo!!! click on few links and you can now read that complete article. Reading is free, but not republishing. But as a reader, you just want to read the original version.
If the publisher is on a payroll of a politician or gets funding from a political party or a foreign government, then the news is tweaked before publishing. A piece of big news will be made weak or small news will be highlighted extensively. Also depends upon if the publisher is a rightist or a leftist. Does it supports just one religion and doesn’t support or cover much about other religions. Are they into agenda-setting and influencing public opinion?
A piece of news coming from the news agency doesn’t remain the same once it reaches the desk of the writer, publishers and big media houses. Everybody has an agenda.
News is a business, and it has all kinds of products to cater for every kind of publishers.