'Archive Entrepreneur' Title Joins News Site Team

By: Steve Outing Add "information entrepreneur" to the list of job descriptions at major newspaper new media operations. The Los Angeles Times recently put out a call for such a person to join the LATimes.com staff and devise strategies to market the newspaper's print and electronic archives.

This is the first time I've seen such a position at a major newspaper, and it indicates that electronic archives -- now that they are on the Web and serving the general public, and not just on proprietary archival services that serve primarily the business markets -- represent significant new revenue opportunities for some newspapers. That is, if you're willing to make some serious investments in marketing your newspaper's archives to a broader consumer audience.

According to Carol Perruso, general manager of LATimes.com, the new "archives manager" for the newspaper will officially be part of the new media staff reporting to her, with a dotted-line relationship with the newspaper library, which is headed by Tom Lutgen. The position will be responsible for marketing of the Times' Web archive service, as well as an existing on-demand research service with which consumers can phone an information specialist who will dig up the desired information from the Times archives for a fee. (This particular position will not deal with existing relationships with traditional archival vendors like Nexis/Lexis, Dialog, etc.)

Perruso says that the need for an "information entrepreneur" became apparent when it was realized that the Times was not promoting and marketing its archive services to general consumers very effectively yet. But it is thought that there's enough of a business opportunity to devote some resources to truly marketing the paper's electronic archives to wider audiences.

Target markets

While a true marketing plan is waiting on arrival of this new hire, Perruso says that initial ideas include marketing the Times' Web archive service to some key audiences that likely will use the service if they know about it. Target markets include the entertainment industry; legal community; public education; libraries; the research community (market researchers and analysts); public relations practitioners; government and legislative researchers/analysts; academics; and advocacy groups that focus on California.

A Times task force already has been working for a couple months on developing a plan to reach the public school/college-university/library market, which is foreseen as a nice revenue stream for the Times Web archive service. To date, no pricing has been set for these type of institutional archive accounts.

The Web archive currently operates on a pay per view model, with free searching but a $1.50 per article download fee. LATimes.com also offers monthly bulk rates ($4.95 for 10 stories, with downloads beyond 10 at $1.50 per article; or $25 for 25 stories) and a bulk discount rate ($100 for 100 articles, but with no time restrictions). Compared to what other newspapers are charging for their Web archive services, the Times' pricing is about in the middle.

Perruso envisions the archive marketing effort opening up some new markets for the newspaper's archived information stores. It's doubtful, she thinks, that existing users of multi-publication database services like Dialog or Nexis/Lexis will migrate to an LA Times-only electronic archive. It's only a minority of users of those services that want only to search for articles in the Times, she says. Rather, marketing will be designed to reach previous non-users of Times archived content.

The new archive marketing manager also will be thinking about how to market the newspaper's impressive database of photos and graphics. Like many newspapers, in recent years the Times has made a concerted effort to digitize and store its photos. These are available internally now, but discussions of late have revolved around making them more available to the public -- primarily through the phone-in on-demand service, and secondarily from the Web site. Is this a good potential revenue source? Perruso isn't sure. This is for letting the public access the photos, but not republish them, after all. (The Times has a separate permissions department which handles republication requests.) Perruso thinks that there will be a market for people wanting photos of their kids or friends that ran in the newspaper, for example.

Infographics that ran in the Times are in high demand already, particularly from teachers, and that too is a nice-looking potential archive revenue stream. Perruso envisions a system of offering them via the Web as PDF files. Times managers haven't yet decided on pricing for these archive components.

The LA Times is one of a handful of major newspaper brands in the U.S. that have particularly high value because of the public perception about the value of its information, Perruso says. "We want to establish (now) the value" of Times content. "Personally, I think the day may come when more content is available (on the Web) at a charge," she says. If that comes to pass, LA Times content will be positioned to be in the top tier.

New breed

The Times' new archive marketing manager will be breaking new ground when he or she starts the job. Ideally, this individual will have expertise in both marketing and library science; the perfect candidate might have a library science degree and an MBA. That might sound like a difficult individual to find, but Perruso says she was pleasantly surprised to find in the first batch of resumes a promising group of candidates. While people with such dual library/business backgrounds "don't grow on trees," some forward-thinking library science schools have identified information marketing as a growth field and are collaborating with business schools to train business-savvy library professionals. It's remarkable how many librarians are entrepreneurial, Perruso says.

Contact: Carol Perruso, Carol.Perruso@latimes.com

Toys R Not Us

In a recent column I wrote about "para-sites" like nytime.com and latime.com, which are attracting traffic to pornography sites when Web users looking for NYTimes.com and LATimes.com mistype those URLs. Raleigh, North Carolina-based attorney Katherine White, who specializes in online publishing, found a recent case that may give targeted publishers some legal ammunition in their fight against the para-sites.

The case is Toys R Us v. Abir, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, decided December 19, 1997. In that case, a federal judge allowed a preliminary injunction against Abir for use of "toysareus.com" as a domain name. (Toys R Us uses toysrus.com.) Abir had sought to sell the toysareus.com domain name to Toys R Us, but the company refused, and he threatened to set up his own toy site. The court ruled that there was a presumption of a likelihood of confusion and dilution of the Toys R Us trademark.

While this case has yet to be tried, of course, the preliminary injunction was issued because the court found that Toys R Us was likely to succeed at trial. Many times, this kind of ruling is the last you hear of such a case, White says.

Contact: Katherine White, kwhite@nando.net


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

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This column is written by Steve Outing exclusively for Editor & Publisher Interactive three days a week. News, tips, and other communications may be sent to Mr. Outing 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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