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News Brainstorming

There have been several efforts to define data formats for news content. Almost all have focused on the interchange of news content between systems and organizations, and so contain dozens (if not hundreds) of fields that are targeted at "news management"--a mix of content management, metadata management, versioning and other operations undertaken by news organizations.

This page serves to document the brainstorming and ideas resulting from analysis of news examples from real world sites and systems for the design of a simple news microformat. - Jonathan Malek


  • Jonathan Malek
  • Stuart Myles
  • Martin Moore
  • Mark Ng
  • Todd Martin

See Also

The Problem

While there are dozens of formats used on thousands of news sites, there is no single standardized format for presentation of news on the web. Having a standardized news format for web publishing would significantly benefit readers, aggregators, search engines and researchers alike. With no standard format for news, search engines are forced to parse unstructured data, and errors can be costly (see, 2008).

Thoughts on a Microformat for News

We found significant overlap with hAtom 0.1, and simplified an initial effort at a data format for news away from describing any fields already in hAtom 0.1, or the superset Atom, with the expectation that future versions of that draft specification would approach feature parity. Instead, we focused on those news fields not in hAtom 0.1.

In much the same way that one extends Atom, we are looking to extend hAtom 0.1 with the most vital news-specific fields.

The fields we've selected are a combination of the common fields from many of the news formats currently in use, and the introduction of one new field, principles.

Common News Fields

  • hAtom 0.1 fields: first and foremost, a news story is an hentry. If the news story cannot be parsed by an hAtom 0.1 parser, it is not a valid news format.
  • source-org: the source organization for this particular news story--should be considered different from the atom:source element because it does not represent the source feed, but rather the source organization (and so should use hCard 1.0). We're using source-org to avoid name conflict with hAtom 0.1 should the draft decide to include the atom:source element.
  • dateline: using text or hCard 1.0, not to be confused with date (see dateline for more information).
  • geo: using Geo, a simple way of providing the information necessary for services for readers around local news content. This field should be inherited from hAtom 0.1, but since it is not part of the format yet, we're including it here. See the hAtom and Geo discussion.
  • item-license: to express licensing around the item
  • principles: using the draft format rel-principles


Please add new issues to the bottom of the Open Issues section by copy and pasting the Template. Please follow-up to resolved/rejected issues with new information rather than resubmitting such issues. Duplicate issue additions will be reverted.

See also hAtom Issues

Issues Template

Consider using this format (copy and paste this to the end of the list to add your issues; replace ~~~ with an external link if preferred) to report issues or feedback, so that issues can show up in hAtom subscriptions of this issues page. If open issues lack this markup, please add it.

Please post one issue per entry, to make them easier to manage. Avoid combining multiple issues into single reports, as this can confuse or muddle feedback, and puts a burden of separating the discrete issues onto someone else who 1. may not have the time, and 2. may not understand the issue in the same way as the original reporter.

<div class="hentry">
<span class="entry-summary author vcard">
 <span class="published">2011-MM-DD</span> 
 raised by <span class="fn">~~~</span>
<div class="entry-content discussion issues">
* <strong class="entry-title">«Short title of issue»</strong>. «Description of Issue»
** Follow-up comment #1
** Follow-up comment #2

Open Issues

Closed Issues


Here are candidate names for a news microformat:

  • hNews


hNews is a data format (similar to a microformat) for news content. hNews extends hAtom, introducing a number of fields that more completely describe a journalistic work. hNews also introduces another data format, rel-principles, a format that describes the journalistic principles upheld by the journalist or news organization that has published the news item. hNews will be one of several open standards.


hNews is a format (similar to a microformat) for identifying semantic information in news stories. It builds on hAtom 0.1, while adding a number of fields that more completely define a journalistic work. hNews can be thought of as inheriting from hAtom 0.1, since parsers and tools that do not understand the hNews extensions can still parse the hAtom 0.1 content. However, those parsers and applications that understand hNews can enable a richer set of semantic actions on news stories.

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.


In General

hNews extends hAtom. As the hAtom draft format notes, "Atom provides a lot more functionality than we need for a 'blog post' microformat, so we've taken the minimal number of elements needed." News stories typically introduce more fields (for instance, the publishing organization) than the current 0.1 draft of hAtom, and those fields are very important when reading or evaluating a news story. We focus on those fields that enable the development of semantic actions around news: license, principles, dateline (geo) and source organization.


The hNews schema consists of the following:

[*] Some required elements have defaults if missing, see below.

Field and Element Details

Source Organization
  • a Source Organization element is identified by the class name source-org.
  • Source Organization represents the originating organization for the news story.
  • a Source Organization MUST be encoded in an hCard 1.0.
  • if the Source Organization is missing
  • a dateline element is identified by the class name dateline.
  • dateline represents the location where the news story was written or filed (see dateline for more details).
  • a dateline element MAY be encoded in an hCard 1.0.
  • a news story SHOULD have a dateline element.
  • dateline sometimes also includes the publish date of the news story. In such cases, use the Datetime Design Pattern to encode the date.
  • a geo element is identified by the class name geo
  • geo represents the geographic coordinates of relevant locations in the news story.
  • a geo element should be encoded in a Geo.
  • in those cases where the latitude and longitude represent the dateline, a variant of Geo should be used (see Geo Improvements for an example).
  • a license element is identified by the class name item-license.
  • a license element MUST be encoded as described in this license brainstorm proposal.
  • a principles element is identified by rel-principles.
  • principles represents the statement of principles and ethics used by the news organization that produced the news story.
  • a principles element MUST be encoded in rel-principles.
  • a news story SHOULD include principles.
  • principles SHOULD be linked to using the icons File:principles-button-blue.png or File:principles-book-blue.png.

XMDP Profile

<dl class="profile">

  <a rel="help" href="">
   HTML4 definition of the 'class' attribute.</a>
  This meta data profile defines some 'class' attribute values (class names) 
  and their meanings as suggested by a 
  <a href="">
   draft of "Hypertext Links in HTML"</a>.

    Used to describe semantic information associated with news stories.

    The originating organization for the news story.

    Represents the location where the news story was filed.

    Represents geographic coordinates of relevant locations in the story.

    Represents the license for the story.

    Represents the statement of principles and ethics used by the news organization that produced the news story.