Newspapers First’s smaller Knight-Ridder papers can seek new

By: Dorothy Giobbe

national ad rep firm p. 35

New focus will be aimed at becoming primarily
a major metro market sales organization sp.

SMALLER KNIGHT RIDDER newspapers that currently are part of Newspapers First will be free to seek their own national representation, according to a top Newspaper First executive.
“Newspapers First is reorientating itself to be primarily a major metro sales organization,” said Jerry Tilis, vice president of marketing for Knight-Ridder and chair of the Newspapers First board. “As Newspapers First goes through that redirection, the smaller Knight Ridder newspapers will be allowed and encouraged to seek representation to fit their needs.”
The move will allow for a “more intense focus” on the major metro papers, Tilis said, and will make Newspaper First “more attractive to both current and prospective newspapers.”
The decision affects Knight-Ridder newspapers that are not in the top 100 ADIs, of which there are about 14. The smaller papers will be given autonomy in their decision and can choose to stay with Newspaper First. Or, they can opt for a single rep for the group, or break from the group and seek individual representation.
“Our desire is to try to go with one rep firm because then the block of Knight-Ridder newspapers is more valuable,” Tilis said.
A four-member task force for the smaller newspapers has been formed and is headed by Tom Privett, vice president of marketing for the Talahassee (Fla.) Democrat.
Privett said the task force is developing a spec form for rep firms that want to bid on the business. The form should be ready in about a month, he said.
So far, no rep firms have been invited to bid yet for the business, but they clearly recognize the opportunities.
Rep firms are excited about the possibilities.
“It’s an opportunity for Landon expansion,” said Bob Keim, president and chief of operations for Landon. “Landon has 110 networks and it’s possible that some of the Knight-Ridder newspapers might fit into our existing, or potential networks.”
Keim added, “We’ve been in touch with some of them, but we’re waiting for the official green light from Knight-Ridder corporate.”
Sammy Papert, president of the Papert companies said, “We’ve been interested in that possibility for some time, and we’re going to get on our dogs and ponies to get those publishers to take a look at us.”
“We felt all along that there is a conflict in trying to represent the large and the small,” he added. “It makes sense to choose one or the other.”
The move is the latest in a series of changes at Newspapers First that began last spring when Kingsley Anthony announced that he would step down as CEO of the organization.
Less than a month later, Times Mirror announced that it also would leave Newspapers First, taking about 20% of Newspapers First revenue.
Newspapers First members met at a two-day meeting in July to discuss the direction of the organization. On September 6, Newspapers First announced that Jay Zitz would take over as CEO.

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