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25th Anniversary 1978-2003

Vol. 25, No.4/Summer 2003

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Vendor Roundtable

June 9, 2003

During the SLA Conference in New York, News Division members had an opportunity to ask questions of four vendors. Moderator Peter Johnson of the Los Angeles Times was joined by panelists Viji Krishnan, Vice President, Content Development for Dialog; Simon Alterman, Vice President, Content for Factiva; Dawn Conway, Vice President, Licensing and Content for LexisNexis; and Scott Roulet, Vice President, Publisher Relations for ProQuest.

Q: Will Factiva be adding content?

A: Editorial content for the Wall Street Journal Online is in the database under Dow Jones News Services content. Access to will soon be an integrated part of Factiva. Talk to your sales representative about access.

Q: Can you give us an idea of royalty and sales projections for news content for the coming year?

A: (LexisNexis) News content is flat to declining in terms of revenue. Some factors affecting news revenue are the availability of free news content on the Internet. Some providers are now changing that model. Another factor is the growth of desktop news. The desktop isn't brand sensitive; people just want answers. News providers should provide value and branding and not give their product away for free.

A: (Dialog) Clients differ in requirements. Users often need targeted subject information. Dialog's focus is on providing specific products to specific clients, using things like new portal technologies.

A: (ProQuest) Shrinking library budgets have affected the use of ProQuest's products. ProQuest is focused on growing key products like the historical newspaper database.

A: (Factiva) News libraries wear two hats - as customers and as providers. Are you, as customers, spending more money now? Apply that answer to being a content provider. Revenues are stable to slightly down. Revenues track to the economy. Factiva is optimistic about 2004 increases.

Q: How much does it cost to digitize archives, and will ProQuest change its pricing strategy to get smaller papers (100,000 to 150,000 circulation) interested in digitizing archives?

A: (ProQuest) The cost of digitizing depends on several factors, such as the original format of the material. In late 2004 ProQuest expects to be more aggressive in pursuing smaller papers. Right now there are several big digitizing projects that need to be finished.

Q: News indexing companies like DayPop are using news content. Why are consumers using informal sources rather than online database vendors? Do database vendors plan to exploit the consumer market, since it's obvious that consumers want news?

A: (ProQuest) ProQuest focuses on public libraries. ProQuest has 150 people who classify and categorize content for the databases. Librarians and students depend on quality. Libraries pay for that quality.

A: (Dialog) Dialog focuses on the corporate market, not consumer end-users. Dialog does have market partners and has done deals with companies like Hoovers to provide some free data to consumers.

A: (LexisNexis) LexisNexis also has a corporate focus, but does allow consumers to pay by credit card. The Intranet Publisher product provides news on people's desktops, but companies pay for that content.

A: (Factiva) Factiva has a deal with Microsoft to integrate Factiva content on Office 2003, but this is aimed at corporate customers.

Q: Public libraries are giving library cards to people who might live anywhere in the world, and then people are able to use the library's databases. Are you concerned about this?

A: (ProQuest) ProQuest has measures in place such as restricting access to customer IP domains, and contracts that limit permission and access terms. Libraries should serve local communities. Usage at the article level is also tracked in royalties. The end user may not pay, but the library does.

A: (LexisNexis) LexisNexis does statewide sales, such as for state/local government consortiums. But those sales are priced for usage and access, and news providers receive royalties.

Q: Some corporate groups are sending direct feeds to data vendors which are not enhanced and to which corrections are not attached. They do it because royalties for same-day delivery are higher. In essence, consumers are paying for sub-standard data, and many consumers might not know that they are getting "dirty data." Are you addressing this problem?

A: (LexisNexis) LexisNexis does quality checks, and if you find problems with a particular paper, let LexisNexis know so they can address the problem. It's the publisher's responsibility to deliver accurate data, but LexisNexis will correct problems if it knows about them.

A: (Dialog) Point out problems as you find them.

A: (Factiva) The publisher's liability is the same if it is a direct feed or an enhanced version. Customers want timely delivery more than double-checked data. Factiva does take second data feeds in some cases with more metadata attached. Publishers make more money by delivering data early, and publishers have shown an interest in doing that. But lots of publishers have asked about processing corrections because they are concerned about liability.

Q: Knight Ridder provides direct feeds to vendors, and at first there were lots of problems, but the data is much better now. However, corrections are not always appended to stories in a timely manner. Is it a lag on the vendors' part?

A: (Dialog) Dialog contracts specify how to deliver deletions and corrections. If the process is followed correctly, corrections are appended automatically. Problems arise if the data comes in a different format.

A: (LexisNexis) LexisNexis also has delivery specifications. Manually adding a correction to a story takes about 48 hours.

A: (ProQuest) ProQuest uses associated document IDs, and this can cause delays.

A: (Factiva) Factiva handles deletions and corrections as soon as possible. Deletion of material gets the highest priority, legally.

Q: How did the KR direct feed process get better?

A: (KR Librarian) Changes in data filtering, the involvement of IT staff, different front-end systems - these all made a difference.

Q: For Dialog, what percentage of news content comes from NewsBank?

A: (Dialog) About 16-20 titles come from NewsBank. We use it for reformatting content.

Q: What content additions, such as PDFs or graphics, would you like to add in the future?

A: (LexisNexis) Visual graphics are at the top of the list.

A: (ProQuest) We already get PDFs and display them.

A: (Dialog) We're going into images in a big way.

A: (Factiva) We want more visual content such as PDFs and HTML documents, but it's an evolutionary process.

Q: What are end users requesting that content providers are not offering?

A: (LexisNexis) Private company data and international data.

A: (Dialog) Private company data and international data.

A: (ProQuest) International customers want translated versions of stories.

A: (Factiva) International content, private company data, rights to use data.

Q: Should newspapers join the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) to get permission rights?

A: (Factiva) Users need to know more about copyright. Non-U.S. publishers are often reluctant to grant rights.

A: (LexisNexis) LexisNexis grants rights manually because of technical issues.

Q: Does Factiva plan to offer administrative capabilities for users with multiple pay-as-you accounts?

A: (Factiva) There are no plans to add that capability right now. It costs us more overhead to offer things like monthly invoices.

Reported by Leigh Poitinger

Last Updated: 08/18/03
Ron Larson