The International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) this week approved the public release of a standard based on XML (Extensible Markup Language) to simplify the delivery, creation and retrieval of news in electronic formats.
Dubbed NewsML, the standard's 1.0 beta version was launched last Monday and is the direct result of an IPTC initiative to deliver a standard to more easily manage electronically-formatted news in environments such as wire services and Web sites, according to the IPTC.
In addition, the standard allows for better categorisation and indexing of the content, making retrieval easier. The content can be text, video, audio or still images.
"NewsML is about creating linked streams of objects so they can be managed through production" to the Web site rendering, said Tony Allday, product development director at Reuters Group.
NewsML allows a developer to "create one document that could be, because it's in XML, rendered using XML style sheets for the Web site and translated for use on some wireless devices," he said.
Using metadata tags to categorise news packages and their elements, NewsML allows for the physical description of the content, information about the construction of the content -- such as the author, publisher or owner -- and information about the content, such as what a particular story is about or who might be interested in it, according to the IPTC.
The news industry is encouraged to begin development implementations of the standard, the IPTC said.
The organisations involved in developing NewsML range from Agence France-Presse to Reuters. One of the ideas, according to Allday, is to make a Web developer's job much easier.
"What it should do is make things easier for anyone attempting to use content in any form of rendering, because NewsML is a format which provides a lot of functionality in terms of linking different media types together, and storage of media types, by use of metadata tags able to associate a text story with a picture, multiple pictures, or perhaps a reference to a video file," Allday said.
The IPTC will meet again in October in Amsterdam and hopes that by then that it will have the final work on the documentation completed so the standard can be formally ratified, he said.