What if there was legal news service, ala UPI, that syndicated legal news, information and commentary so that such news and commentary could be published by third-parties?

UPI (United Press International), founded in 1907, at its peak had more than 2,000 full-time employees, 200 news bureaus in 92 countries and more than 6,000 media subscribers, including newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations. 

As a kid I thought it incredibly neat that our local daily small town newspaper could pull and publish UPI stories and photos from around the world, in what looked like instantaneous fashion. 

Most of us who are old enough think Walter Cronkite broke the news of President Kennedy’s assassination. Not so, Cronkite got the news from UPI.

The essence of UPI, as well as AP and Reuters is syndication. Collect the news in various formats (text, audio and video) and syndicate it to those in the news business. 

With the decline in the traditional news business, these news services are no longer what that they used to be.

The legal news and journalism business is also on the decline.

  • With declining ad and subscription revenues, it is near impossible for traditional legal publishers to retain top reporters and editors.
  • Open publishing is starting to impact the publishers of treatises, reviews and journals who have traditionally received articles and editorial work for free and sold subscriptions, including to those who wrote and edited the content. 
  • Law firms are paying third parties to distribute the content published by their lawyers, with the third party often taking the Google search and social networking influence of the content. 
  • Third party publishers are asking legal professionals to write for them – for free – and for the third party publisher to retain ownership of the content and its original domain on the net.

What’s killing traditional legal journalism even more is the importance of the individual citizen journalist and what that citizen journalist should own and control in today’s Internet world.

Legal journalism has been democratized. 

  • Legal professionals have a printing press in their hands via a WordPress platform on a desktop or mobile device.
  • Legal professionals are reporting on law blogs – thousands of blogs with tens of thousand of bloggers, over 22,000 bloggers on LexBlog alone.
  • Legal journalism is now created by those in the know – practicing lawyers, law professors, law students and other legal industry professionals, all of whom have first hand knowledge and experience in niche areas.
  • Legal professionals can own and control their journalism (content and domain) without handing it to third parties for publishing or distribution, resulting in loss of influence caused by not having their domain be viewed as the primary domain.

With all of these law blogs, why not have a “UPI” syndicating this legal news and commentary?

The content could be syndicated to subscribers licensing a “syndication portal” displaying the stories the subscriber saw as relevant. 

Subscribers could include associations, law firms and other organization who had a ready reason to license a “syndication portal,” whether it be for member relationships, brand building or otherwise. 

Content could also be syndicated in niche focused “magazines” comprised primarily of syndicated legal news and commentary.

Most important in such legal syndication is it being all about the individual law blogger, not the third party publisher as in days past. Blogger retains ownership and control, with the primary domain for growing and retaining search and social influence being the bloggers.

A hub for legal blogs with the accompanying technology for “syndication portals” could make legal news syndication a reality.