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By: Lucia Moses

When Peter Arundel, president of Times Community Newspapers of Northern Virginia, had breakfast with executives in February to discuss a potential partnership, he was impressed by their honesty and openness. “They’re very friendly, and interested in leveraging newspapers’ strength with their own,” says Arundel, who publishes 18 weekly papers.

It’s true Monster may be charming when it’s trying to get newspapers to help it make money. After all, things could get very expensive for the online job giant if it has to hire hundreds of salespeople to achieve its goal of local recruitment-advertising growth.

Monster isn’t so charitable toward newspapers when it’s talking to potential clients, though — a point for papers to bear in mind if they’re considering collaborating with the online behemoth.

Consider the message Monster sends to local employers in seminars being conducted across the country. Slide after slide pounds home the point that newspaper circulation is declining, while print remains an expensive way to advertise. Most companies use print, but few are happy with the results, Monster claims. Meanwhile, the Internet is becoming the most effective way to hire, and, among Web sites, Monster has the biggest reach.

Monster “doesn’t say this, but the bottom line is, ‘Mr. Advertiser, you’re getting screwed,'” says Gordon Borrell, president of new-media consultancy Borrell Associates Inc., who attended a Monster seminar March 5 in Norfolk, Va.

Charles S. Diederich, director of recruitment advertising for the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), said the presentation can be misleading, pointing to a chart that shows Internet use spiking as newspaper circulation wanes. “We know there are not as many Internet users in this country as there are newspaper readers.”

Adding insult to injury, Monster enlisted an authority on newspaper help-wanted ads, Ira Gordon, who for a long time promoted newspaper
recruitment ads for the NAA and its predecessors — his about-face has industry leaders fuming.

The presentation has some convinced Monster can’t be trusted as a business partner. “They wouldn’t be here in our markets bashing the price of a print ad if they wanted to play in the same sandbox,” rages Connie Lenz-Salinas, marketing director for the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman. Lenz-Salinas had employees attend Monster’s seminar March 12 in Austin. “That’s not a way to win friends in my book.”

The American-Statesman isn’t sitting idle. In addition to preparing a relaunch of its jobs vertical site that will include a better way to match job seeker and employer, the paper is running house ads to promote itself to blue-collar job seekers, the same ones Monster is targeting.

As for Arundel, he admits being tempted by the chance to tap into Monster’s executive and managerial job listings, where his papers are weak. Still, keeping in mind concerns that a partnership would erode his print classifieds, he plans to “tread very carefully.”

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