A Little Something for Everyone

By: Steve Outing

For today's column I'll borrow a technique from venerable San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen and offer up a variety of news items, plus some of your letters. ... Just because the items are short doesn't mean they're unimportant. ... Please read on.

57 more newspapers online ... and more coming

Bowes Publishers of Canada, a subsidiary of the Toronto Sun Publishing Corp., is putting all of its 57 small daily and weekly newspapers on the World Wide Web. It's these types of announcements that keep the numbers of online newspaper services growing rapidly. According to the Editor & Publisher research department, which tracks the growth of online ventures by newspaper publishers, there are more than 1,500 online newspaper services worldwide (with about 1,400 of them being World Wide Web services).

I've been hearing increasing concern from various quarters that newspapers will start killing off Web sites when they find them to be too much of a cash drain. I continue to believe that publishers will hold on and that we will see more growth in the number of newspapers creating new online services. At this point I'm sticking to my prediction of 2,000 online newspaper services by the close of 1996.

Why do I discount the Web backlash predictions? Other than a strong sense of optimism that Internet publishing will evolve into a profitable industry that newspapers will want to be part of, I don't see that publishers have much choice but to stay the course on the Web. As I've written about frequently in this column, there are competitors with deep pockets (AT&T, Microsoft, America Online and others) creating local-based online services for the local marketplace. Newspapers must compete, or they'll lose parts of their franchise in the next few years.

It's official: Mindspring buys NandO's access business

Mindspring Enterprises officially announced last week that it had purchased the Internet access business of NandO.net, the Internet publishing arm of McClatchy Newspapers. NandO currently provides access to about 7,000 customers in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill). Mindspring is an access provider serving 10 southeastern U.S. states. The company recently purchased PSINet's nationwide consumer subscriber base, allowing Mindspring to expand across the U.S.

As reported here several weeks ago, NandO.net is focusing on digital publishing and content development, led by new CEO Chris Hendricks.

Fairfax puts Australian papers' classifieds online

Fairfax Publishing in Australia, following in arch-rival Rupert Murdoch's footsteps, has put the classified ad of its newspapers on the Web. Employment, real estate and auto ads from the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Australian Financial Review and the Sun-Herald are available in a searchable database at http://market.fairfax.com.au/. Fairfax is using technology from Netscape and Verity.

An interesting feature of the site is the inclusion of classified display ads, which are text-searchable (just like liners). (The only other newspaper classifieds sites that I've been able to identify with searchable display ads are those using the WebCLASS system from Colorado-based ClassiFACTS -- Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Santa Rosa Press Democrat and San Francisco Chronicle.) The Fairfax site also has established thesaurus-like links, such that a search for "Ford" will turn up ads for "Mustang" even though Ford is not mentioned in the ad.

Movin' On

Randy Bennett has been promoted to vice president of new media for the Newspaper Association of America. He formerly was director of new technologies. Bennett is responsible for new media related programs and research for the largest U.S. newspaper trade association. He also manages the annual Connections new media conference (to be held next in San Francisco, July 18-20, 1997) and oversees the Digital Edge Web site, a subscription service covering new media developments. (Digital Edge is managed on a day to day basis by Melinda Gipson.)

Gil Asakawa has joined the newly created staff of Digital City Denver as content editor. Asakawa previously was entertainment editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph; and from 1983 to 1991 was music editor for Westword, Denver's dominant alternative news and arts weekly. Heading up the Denver office as "Mayor" is Judy Tobey.

Henrik Tengby is leaving Riksmedia/Scandinavia Today/OCC Scandinavia in Stockholm to join the newspaper Gotesborg Tidningen in Gothenburg, Sweden, as technical manager. His responsibilities will include bringing the afternoon paper to readers "in other ways than just print." Tengby reports that he wrote for the newspaper some 20 years ago.

Digital City feedback

Tommy McGloin, director of business development for Digital City Inc., wrote in response to my column last Wednesday about DCI and the Tribune Co.:

"I enjoy you column and think you're providing excellent advice. But I have to take issue with your writing:

'For those publishers in other markets, short of doing a Tribune-like buy-in to DCI, local media outlets -- if they choose to do business with DCI -- will be in a less enviable and subservient position.'

"The only things enviable about The Tribune Co.'s position are that they have the investment capital and progressive corporate culture to move so aggressively after this opportunity. In other markets, we are offering newspaper publishers a deal with big upside for no dollar investment! In many cases, these publishers have already established a Web site, or otherwise revealed their acceptance of the premise that the Internet and online represent an opportunity to defend and extend their franchises. And then we come along and offer a partnership with the world's largest and most successful interactive service ... with dozens and hundreds of thousands of addressable AOL members already in their market areas. If I were a publisher, I'd give it a try.

"Every meeting that I have with a newspaper about partnering with Digital City is a meeting that I approach with respect for the newspaper, its history, and its standing in the community. My marching orders from corporate certainly don't say 'Go forth and subjugate.' They say, 'Go forth and find partners.' Digital City will work with partners in the same spirit that America Online works with hundreds of content partners: making a fair deal. I know this from experience. When I was at Investor's Business Daily and headed their launch on AOL in 1994, Bob Smith was my first contact at AOL. He outlined the deal, we negotiated a bit, but most importantly, we brought a clear set of business objectives to our online area. Investor's Business Daily is a lot happier with that AOL deal than with its own Web efforts, believe me.

"I just can't wait to see where things stand a year from now, and beyond."

Contact: Tommy McGloin, tmcgloin@aol.com


Contrary to the spelling in last Wednesday's column, the America Online/Tribune Co. online community guide company is Digital City Inc. (It's not plural.)

Newsroom e-mail solutions

David Knight, who just left the San Diego Union-Tribune where he was computer systems director, after reading my Friday column on e-mail usage in newsrooms, noted that some newspapers are having success with the Globalmail product from SII (Systems Integrators, maker of one of the top proprietary newsroom editing systems). It allows SII newsroom users to receive Internet e-mail directly into their Coyote editing environment. E-mail is received as a story into a specific mail basket. At the Union-Tribune, this is done on PCs equipped with Coyote emulation boards, and serves about 300 staffers.

"The product is not as full-featured as say Eudora (it can't handle binary attachments yet), but was very easy to deploy (vs. upgrading all the 1992 486 PC hardware and putting Windows and Windows apps on all 300 PCs)," Knight says. "This is a good 'bridge' strategy to the next generation editing system, which should include Internet connectivity as a standard component."

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This column is written by Steve Outing exclusively for Editor & Publisher Interactive. Tips, letters and feedback can be sent to Steve at steve@planetarynews.com

The views expressed in the above column do not necessarily represent the views of the Editor & Publisher company.


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