7am News adds original content

The firm is adding original reporting to its news services and syndicating it free of charge.

7am News is delving deeper into the news business.

The company already offers a popular news ticker with headlines linked to stories from online news organizations, including CNET's NEWS.COM. But now, with a team of three reporters in the U.S. and U.K., 7am News will start providing its own original content--and giving it away free of charge.

The 7am News ticker has found its way onto approximately 6,000 Web sites since its introduction 18 months ago, according to editor Bruce Simpson, who is based in rural New Zealand. But some site operators are wary of including a ticker that essentially entices users to leave their site in favor of a news site.

7am's FreeWires service, set to launch June 1, will remedy that problem by letting sites frame 7am's original stories.

Framing has been a contentious issue in the world of news headline linking. Last year, TotalNewssettled with news organizations that had sued it for presenting news stories within a TotalNews frame, with the TotalNews logo and advertising.

In this case, because 7am owns the copyright to its own stories, it will permit sites that have licensed its service to frame them.

News organizations and other journals on the Internet have been signing deals left and right to syndicate content both on and off the Web. Recent examples include online literary magazines Slate and Salon, as well as comics syndicates.

Other sites also have been cross-promoting their materials on different media in an effort to spread their content as far and wide as possible. Several news sites, for instance, regularly try to get other Internet sites to run their content. Even sites that charge for content are giving their stories to other sites to gain more readers. For instance, MSNBC is offering selected content, free, from the Wall Street Journal, which charges a subscription fee.

7am News will be a pioneer in offering its syndicated content free of charge, according to Simpson.

Simpson concedes that his trio of reporters will be vastly outnumbered by collected staffs of the news sites he links to through the 7am News ticker. But he said his three reporters would be able to compete by concentrating on what Internet readers really want: concision and timeliness.

"Studies indicate that the average Internet user is unlikely to read past two screens of text," Simpson said. "The average reader wants the fast-food version of news."

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