Microsoft plans to become a big player in Britain’s news industry

Bill Gates’s giant computer empire has ambitions to become a key provider of news to audiences in Britain, reports Ian Burrell from inside its London newsroomIt’s really called a huddle but we are so whacky and new media here we call it The Cuddle,” laughs Matthew Ball, as he heads off into a corner of the newsroom and gathers his staff about him. Then in a circular space, looking out towards Buckingham Palace, Microsoft’s British editor-in-chief, addresses his team of news, entertainment, motoring and business journalists, as they seek to become major players in the British news media.Microsoft’s content portal, MSN, has 19.9m unique users a month in the UK (more than any of the big British newspaper websites), but it craves to be taken more seriously as a news provider. Its journalists, Ball argues during an interview in a nearby office, do far more than simply reproduce, or aggregate, other people’s work. These multi-skilled MSN journalists, have not just a “nose for news” but a “passion for technology”, he says. “Our editors edit videos and podcasts, they select images, Photoshop them and put together a whole package themselves, then track how well it performs and report back on how they’re doing versus the targets we have for the site.”

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