Before it can be distributed, data must be indexed using standard, machine-readable protocols. Unable to find an existing architecture both flexible and comprehensive enough to meet our needs, we created a new open standard for media analysis, the Universal News Protocol.

Universal News Protocol (v 0.1) is a set of 285 data points, descriptors and hooks that provide unmatched and unprecedented article-level insights in machine-readable formats.

Universal News Protocol proposes an open technical spec for creating unique and verifiable content IDs, as well as a fully federated system for documenting the metadata, production data and syndication history of content across the web.

This new protocol is:

  • Interoperable with existing media taxonomies
  • Plug-and-play with major content management systems
  • Entirely opt-in

In September, we published our first standard, the Universal News Identifier, which will:

  • Serve as the "connective tissue" between publishers, distributors, indices and analysts
  • Introduce nil or nominal drag on technical performance
  • Increase public trust through greater transparency

The Universal News Identifier specifies a formulation based on certain uniquely identifying attributes of an article at the time of its publication.

Specifically, each Universal News Identifier is the SHA256 hash of the colon-delimited concatenation of article url, title and the outlet's name:

SHA256(<URL>:<Title>:<Outlet Name>)

The final result is a 64-character alphanumeric string that is unique to each article. Universal News Identifiers are then used to collect, store and access production data from service providers, including Pressland's own news-trust API.