Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow Wants to Protect Content from Online Pirates
Posted: 3/15/2013  |  By: Nu Yang
As more newspapers begin to put their content behind a paywall, Reynolds Journalism Institute Fellow Connie Farrow, along with Missouri-based American Newspaper Digital Access Corp. (newspaperdigitalaccess.com), is developing a business model that will protect online content and return value to the newspapers.

Farrow spent 20 years as a reporter and editor with publications such as The Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader, USA Today, and The Associated Press. She also owns her own public relations, media training, and advocacy business, Farrow Communications LLC.

Farrow said she was approached by ANDAC president and Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune general manager Andy Waters last summer to manage a project that would put online content on one central database in order to help newspapers fight back against online pirates who aggregate a newspaper’s content.

According to Farrow, newspapers would upload their PDFs to an FTP server, and a third-party vendor would “disassemble” the story. She said items such as text, photos, and public notices would be broken out and made searchable. A link to the original PDF would also be available.

Farrow said the database could speed up the tearsheet process for advertisers. “It’s usually a slow turnaround to show advertisers their ad in the paper,” she said. “Now, they can just link the content back to the PDF.”

Farrow said she is also experimenting with protecting public notices. Through this project, public notices can be digitalized and put into one central database, accessible to people around the country.

The Reynolds Journalism Institute, which is based at the Missouri School of Journalism, has been a valuable resource for Farrow. In the first four months of her fellowship, she focused on finding software that could “crack the code” on converting and reading files.

“RJI has allowed me to test ideas and concepts,” Farrow said. “Right now, I’m working with students in the MBA program who are helping me identify markets and put together a business plan.”

In addition to protecting content, publishers are able to use the database to create new revenue. Using a business-to-business model, subscribers pay a fee to access stories.

“Instead of subscribing through a paywall for each paper, businesses can pay one fee from ANDAC, and papers would receive revenue from ANDAC,” Farrow said.

The project’s aim is to address not only the challenges created from the Internet, but also the opportunities. “There’s exciting, cutting-edge stuff … and we’re helping newspapers think of new ways to be profitable.”