July 1997

Root Page of Article: Not-so-strange Alliances and Their Impact on Online News Media, by Ann Auman

Cross Fertilization will Create Diversity in News Delivery

Some newspapers are joining New Century Network rather than watch non-newsmedia companies take away their advertising dollars and readers. New Century Network, after its launch in the spring of 1995 as an online advertising network for nine dailies, is a content broker for 69 papers. Each affiliate is allowed to use each other's content even if they are competitors in print.Local and national advertisers can buy ads as a result of an agreement between NCN and NetGravity AdServer Network.

Consider other moves by newspaper owners to diversify and potentially increase revenue:Digital City, Inc., the America Online spinoff that's creating online community guides in many as 88 U.S. cities, has signed partnership agreements with large metro daily newspapers. DCI has agreements with some smaller newspapers and The Chicago Tribune, which participates in Digital City Chicago. DCI is 20 percent owned by the Tribune Co. In December 1996, DCI announced that it had signed a Twin Cities Digital City cooperative deal with the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune--the largest newspaper in Minnesota.

Last year Microsoft announced its CityScape online city guide venture that would seek classified advertising.Microsoft later backed off, saying it wanted to focus on entertainment andadvertising, not news. AT&T also backed off its Home Town venture. Newspaper executives shied away from the venture, fearing it would cut into their print editions' classified advertising. Columnist Steve Outing speculated that the Microsoft and AT&T both recognized that the "content businessis not true to their core." Microsoft's retreat was a relief to editors.Classified ads make up as much as 37 percent of newspapers' advertising revenue. Then, in March, Microsoft launched its Sidewalk city guides (formerly CityScape). They will compete directly with local newspapers in the delivery of news, features, entertainment directories and advertising services. Ten to 15 cities, including Twin Cities, are expectedto be online by the end of 1997. The staff will include print, broadcast and online journalists.

Increasingly, partnerships are enabling news to be delivered in severalways: NBC News is the only TV news organization to deliver news on three platforms: broadcast TV, cable and the Internet through MSNBC. Newspaper organizations are also attracted to multimedia. Staff membersof The Gate, the online service for the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, moved into the building of thetelevision station KRON, where they joined forces with KRON's new media staff of six. Steve Outing, "Stop the Presses" columnist for E&P Interactive, noted that this was the first merger of a single company's newspaper and TV Web sites intoa single multi-media site. The motivation for the move, he said, came partly from competition from Digital City, Microsoft's Sidewalk, CitySearch, Yahoo! San Francisco and others.

The Chicago Tribune is one of the few papers with reporters devoted exclusively to its online version . Staff members cover stories, take pictures, operate video cameras and create digital pages. The Tribune Internet edition contains most ofthe information from the print version. It also provides audio interviews and information from the company's radio station, and from the Tribune's 24-hour news service, Chicago Land Television News. --

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