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API Rights and NPRML

There have been quite a few comments and posts around the Web about our API and I would like to clarify a few points about the offering. I also plan to engage in some of the discussions in other forums but I wanted to address them first in our own blog. To see some of the more prominent discussions, you can see the articles on TechCrunch and on Mashable.com.

A common discussion point on the API so far has been our exclusions. Below are the reasons for the exclusions referenced in both of the above blogs as well as some other details that I want to explain:

  • NPR programs and series, including Fresh Air, This I Believe and StoryCorps, are getting excluded due to rights restrictions. We obviously would like to include these in the API and are looking into making it happen. That said, we did not want to hold up the launch of the API as we researched the rights.
  • NPR programs, including RadioLabs, Car Talk and The Diane Rehm Show are distributed by NPR but their web content is not. As a result, these programs are currently not available on NPR.org or through the API.
  • Other radio programs, including MarketPlace, This American Life and A Prairie Home Companion, are not NPR programs — they are produced and distributed by other public radio entities like American Public Media or Public Radio Interactive. NPR does not have the access or the rights to distribute the content from those programs.
  • Currently, we are not providing any of our video content in the API, although it is on our future plans. Our goal was to launch with our primary asset well defined, which is audio. There are still a few details that we need to work out before extending the API to offer our video content, but hope to be opening that up soon.
  • Our online database goes back to 1995, including over 250,000 stories spanning 13 years. We are actively working to get more of the archival content, dating back to 1970, into the system and available through the API.
  • NPRML is the XML structure that is native to our entire system and it is the structure that drives all content for NPR.org, the API and beyond. We decided to open it up just to be transparent with as much content as possible. This structure is not meant to be a new proposed standard or to replace our goals to expand our output formats. We do intend to include other more comprehensive formats like NewsML and others in the future.

Although we believe that our API is an extensive offering, it will only continue to grow with time. We really appreciate the feedback we have been getting and will look forward to getting more in the future. Knowing that there is a desire for video, for example, will help us prioritize accordingly to better serve the API community. Please check back to this blog for more information about our API and our future plans.

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