By Stuart Myles

I chair the Board of Directors of IPTC, a consortium of news agencies, publishers and system vendors, which develops and maintains technical standards for news, including NewsML-G2, rNews and News-in-JSON. I work with the Board to broaden adoption of IPTC standards, to maximize information sharing between members and to organize successful face-to-face meetings.

We hold face-to-face meetings in several locations throughout the year, although, most of the detailed work of the IPTC is now conducted via teleconferences and email discussions. Our Annual General Meeting for 2016 was held in Berlin in October. As well as being the time for formal votes and elections, the AGM is a chance for the IPTC to look back over the last year and to look ahead about what is in store. What follows is my prepared Chairman’s Report at the AGM.

 

The Only Constant

It is clear that the news industry is experiencing a great degree of change. The business side of news continues to be under pressure. And, in no small part, this is because the technology involved in the creation and distribution of news continues to rapidly evolve.

However, in many ways, this is a golden age of journalism. The demand for news and information has never been higher. The immediate and widespread distribution of news has never been easier.

The IPTC has been around for 51 years. I’ve been a delegate to the IPTC since 2000 and Chairman of the Board since June 2014. I’d like to give my perspective on the changes going on within the news industry and how IPTC has and will respond.

We’re On a Mission

IPTC is rooted in – and foundational to – the news industry. Our open source standards for news technology enable the operations of hundreds of news and media organizations, large and small. IPTC standards are instrumental in the software used to create, edit, archive and distribute news and information around the world.

We are starting to evolve the scope of our work beyond standards – such as via the EXTRA project to build an open source rules-based classification engine. Much of what we do is relevant to not only news agencies and publishers, but also to photographers, videographers, academics and archivists. By bringing together these diverse groups, we can not only create powerful, efficient standards and technologies, but also learn from each other about what works and what does not.

Ch-ch-changes

We’ve introduced quite a bit of change within the IPTC since I’ve become Chairman and that has continued over the last year.

What’s Going On?

We’re working to improve our existing family of standards by

  • continuing to improve documentation – to make it easier to get going with a standard and simpler to grasp the nuances when you want to expand your implementation
  • making our standards more coherent and consistent – as many organizations need to use a combination
We’re extending the reach of the IPTC, both by working with other organizations (including PRISM, IIIF, WAN-IFRA and W3C). But also by engaging in new types of work such as EXTRA and the Video Metadata Hub, which are not traditional standards but are open source projects for the benefit of the community we serve.
 
Since I’ve become Chair, we’ve renewed our efforts to communicate the great work that we do. You can see a big uptick in our engagement via Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as by refreshing the design of our the IPTC website. Plus we’re doing a lot more work “out in the open” on Github.
 
We’re continuing to streamline the operations of the IPTC. We’ve simplified our processes to better reflect the ways we actually operate these days. For example we have dramatically reduced the number of formal votes we take. But we still have sufficient process in place to ensure that the interests of all members are protected. For 2017, we have decided to have two-plus-one face-to-face meetings, rather than our usual three-plus-one. We will hold two full face-to-face meetings (one in London, the other in Barcelona), plus our one day Photo Metadata conference in association with the CEPIC Conference in Berlin. This will allow us to intensify our work on the meetings, with more ambitious and compelling topics and speakers.

Do Better

As I said, we’ve been changing our processes, particularly for the face-to-face meetings. But what else could we do to simplify our processes whilst at the same time ensuring that there is a balance between the interests of all members? Are there ways for the IPTC to deliver more value to the membership? How do we continue to balance our policy of consensus-driven decision-making with the need to be more flexible and nimble?

IPTC is a membership-driven organization. Membership fees represent the vast majority of the revenue for our organization. As the news industry as a whole continues to feel pressure – including downsizing, mergers and, unfortunately some members going out of business – the IPTC is experiencing downward pressure on its own revenue. So, we are working on ways to reach new members, whilst at the same time ensuring that existing members continue to derive value. We’re also open to exploring new ways of generating revenue which fit with our mission – let us know your ideas!

What new areas should the IPTC focus on? Many journalists are experimenting with an array of technologies – Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 360 degree photos, drones and bots, to name but a few. And let’s not forget about the “Cambrian Explosion” of technologies related to news and metadata on the Web, including AMP, AppleNews, Instant Articles, rNews, Schema.org and OpenGraph. How can IPTC help – negotiating standards? Developing best practices? Navigating the ethics of these technologies?

Happy

If you’re happy with the IPTC, then please tell others.

If you’re not happy, then please tell me!

I Want to Thank You

Without you, the members of IPTC, literally none of this is possible. So, I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone involved in the organization, particularly everyone involved in all of the detailed work of the IPTC. And I’d like to acknowledge and thank Andreas Gebhard, who is stepping down from the Board, and Johan Lindgren who has been voted on.

Finally, I’d like to extend a special thanks to Michael Steidl, Managing Director of the IPTC, who is personally involved in almost every aspect of what we do.

2017

No doubt, next year will bring us many new and, often, unexpected challenges. I look forward to tackling with all of you, the IPTC.
 

Contact Stuart Myles
Twitter: @Smyles @IPTC

LinkedIn: IPTC