TRIBUNE INTERACTIVE AIMS FOR NATIONAL AUDIENCE

By: Jason Williams

Merging Tribune’s, Times Mirror’s Web Assets



An excerpt from Editor & Publisher’s special March 20 report on the
World’s Greatest Newspaper Deal



One of the most wide-ranging implications of the Tribune/Times Mirror
merger will come online, as Tribune Interactive is poised to create a
national platform for local content that could be used to resurrect its
city-portal designs, using the combined company’s wealth of local-

market content.



Low audience numbers and a lack of advertising dollars hurt the Tribune
Co.’s partnership with America Online’s Digital City in 1998, the first
time it tried to set up a city portal system. But the addition of the
Times Mirror Co.’s assets promises a larger audience and more ad
revenue.



The combination of Tribune and Times Mirror Web sites would give
Tribune Interactive a total of 34 million unique visitors, more than
The New York Times on the Web and USAToday .com combined, according to
Media Metrix numbers. The merger also puts the company in the Top 20
ranking for news, information, entertainment, and interactive services.



‘We’ll now have the platform to expand our local interactive businesses
with a truly national presence,’ said Jeff Scherb, president of Tribune
Interactive, the new-media division of the Tribune Co. that was formed
last June. And more local-market content means more advertising and e-

commerce opportunities for Tribune Interactive.



‘We believe very strongly that great content creates a context for e-

commerce,’ Scherb said. ‘So as a company now with strong Web presence
in the three largest cities in the country [New York, Los Angeles,
Chicago], we have a much greater opportunity to create e-commerce
businesses with scale.’



Scherb pointed to Tribune’s Go2Orlando.com as an example of the kind of
e-commerce opportunities that await the new company. Go2Orlando.com
provides local news, hotel packages, airplane and rental car
reservations, restaurant reviews, and other information for people
planning a vacation in Orlando, Fla.



Scherb also thinks the wealth of content from the newspapers, radio and
TV stations, and niche Web sites will make the company more attractive
to online advertisers, both locally and nationally. ‘We have television
and newspaper in the three largest markets in the country, and as
broadband becomes even more important and video on the Web becomes even
more important, no other company has the assets that we have,’ Scherb
said.



Most analysts agree that the synergy of the Tribune and Times Mirror
companies is the shot in the arm that Times Mirror’s Web ventures need.
Times Mirror, according to its 1998 annual report, spends more than $25
million a year on new media, but has been accused of lacking a clear
Internet philosophy.



‘Mark Willes has not been an active supporter of new media. He was sort
of late to it as a personal user,’ said Harry Chandler, son of Los
Angeles Times ex-publisher Otis Chandler. Harry Chandler, executive
vice president of GoTo.com, had been leading the Times’ new-media
efforts, but left in March 1999, highly critical of the direction in
which Willes was taking the paper’s parent company.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Jason Williams (jwilliams@editorandpublisher.com) is the new-media
reporter for Editor & Publisher magazine.









(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

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