Notable Efforts From the Connections Exhibit Floor

By: Steve Outing

At last weekend's Connections 96 conference in Las Vegas (pre-cursor to the giant Nexpo newspaper technology conference which ends today), much of the value of attending came from hanging around the exhibit hall. Of the 30 exhibitors at Connections, I found a few to be demonstrating particularly significant products and services.

KOZ: Community based database publishing tools

KOZ Inc. of Greensboro, North Carolina, was demonstrating prototypes of its upcoming community based World Wide Web database publishing tools, which are aimed at the newspaper industry. What's gotten KOZ a lot of attention -- despite the fact that its products aren't due to be released till August -- is who's running the company.

KOZ was created early this year by Frank Daniels III, former executive editor of the News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina) and former chief executive of NandO, McClatchy Newspapers' new media arm. Daniels also brought with him George Schlukbier, who was the No. 2 executive at NandO, and a handful of other NandO veterans reportedly are involved in the company. President is Harry Bailes, a computer-imaging executive.

What KOZ is developing that's most exciting is a suite of tools to publish community information on a newspaper's Web service without adding additional staff resources. One of the KOZ products is called "Community Life," and its mission is to allow newspapers to create online spaces for community groups within a Web site which can be managed and filled with content by the groups themselves. It allows self-publishing by third parties on a newspaper site by giving novice online users a simple interface to sophisticated database-publishing tools which are used to populate their Web pages.

An example of the concept would be local little league baseball, which would be given a space on the newspaper's Web site to publish information to its community of players, coaches and parents. Volunteers would use Community Life templates to input scores, schedules, player and team stats, special offers, etc. And members of the little league community would communicate with each other online -- for example, by sending event time-and-place notification to members and families of teams.

The appeal of such a database-driven system should be obvious. Particularly for regional and smaller newspapers, resources to populate a Web site with quality content often are stretched thin. Just as community groups get short shrift in the printed newspaper due to lack of physical space in the paper, these groups often are slighted online as well -- not for lack of space but for lack of online newspaper staff resources to get the groups' information online. A system to allow self-publishing by community organizations without taxing a paper's small online staff is an important development in the evolution of regional-newspaper Web sites, allowing modest staffs to publish an enormous volume of information (and thus opening up additional advertising opportunities to fund the sites).

Especially for regional and community newspapers, community organizations are an important constituency. Get these groups involved in the local newspaper Web site by giving them the tools to publish their own information online and communicate with each other under the roof of the newspaper site, the argument goes, and you've created a loyal user base for your regional/local Web service.

KOZ's Internet publishing tools also will include KOZnet, an automated, network-centered product that allows you to capture and efficiently manage huge amounts of information; BusinessLife, a database-driven electronic business directory; and Shopping!, a local-market online shopping application. KOZ's products and services are being marketed by IBM as part of the IBM Web Publishing Solution.

Contact: Mark Markwell, VP-sales,

Washington Post adds BigBook, due out of beta testing soon as a Web site (you'll recall that the Washington Post's online service, previously called Digital Ink, began on the AT&T Interchange platform), has joined forces with BigBook, a San Francisco-based Web business directory service. The companies are touting this as the first partnership of a media company and an online business directory.

The deal creates a comprehensive local business and consumer information service (a.k.a. online yellow pages directory) for the Washington, D.C., area. Each business in the area has its own free listing on BigBook, plus a free Web page and locator map. D.C. area businesses can purchase enhanced listings via the Washington Post, which as part of the partnership becomes the exclusive advertising agent for BigBook in the D.C. region. The Post also will sell banner advertising in targeted yellow pages search categories in order to drive traffic to an advertiser's BigBook home pages.

The Post-BigBook pages are co-branded, and the Post is contributing reviews and other content to the site.

Don Albert,'s vice president of advertising, says he views the deal as a natural evolution of the Post's traditional classifieds business.

This is an interesting deal, coming at the point in time when newspapers are allying with technology companies or seriously considering doing so. As I've written about in recent weeks, one of the more interesting developments is newspaper companies allying with local-market online community guide ventures such as CitySearch, Microsoft's "CityScape" project, and America Online's Digital Cities. Local business directories and likely to be a part of some of these ventures (whether newspapers partner with them or not), so the Post's deal to create a co-branded online business directory is a smart move to head off the coming competition.

Contact: Don Albert, VP-advertising,

AP's 'The Wire'

The Associated Press was showing off the first public prototype of its upcoming multimedia news service, called "The Wire." The service, to be available this fall to AP members, will let subscribing news Web sites present AP text, sports stats, stock prices, photos, graphics, audio, video, and AP archives on co-branded pages that reside on AP's server -- yet are accessible to the consumer only through a newspaper's Web site.

The prototype is presented using Web page frames, which include:
* A headline ticker at the top of the page. Clicking on an interesting headline as it flashes on the screen pulls up the full story.
* A main news content screen.
* An advertising frame at the bottom of the page is provided for locally sold ad banners. Ads stay on screen for a few seconds then rotate to the next one in a queue.
* In the lower right corner is the home newspaper banner, with a pop-up box to return the viewer to other parts of the newspaper site.
* On the left side are navigation aids and the search function.
* And on the lower left, two buttons lead the user to top-of-the-hour news updates, in either text or audio formats.

AP representatives staffing the Connections exhibit booth said they'd received feedback that the local newspaper branding on the prototype was too small, so the look of the service could change over the next few months. The prototype currently is not available for public viewing on the Web.

American Business Journals puts 28 papers online

I've been wondering when they'd get around to this. American Business Journals, which publishes 28 U.S. regional weekly business newspapers, has put all of them on the World Wide Web at once with a new site, These are free, advertiser-supported sites which will compete with the the online business sections of dailies' Web sites.

Steve Previous day's column | Next day's column | Archive of columns
Presented 3 days a week by Steve Outing, Planetary News LLC.
Made possible by Editor & Publisher magazine.
Got a tip? Let me know about it

If you have a newsworthy item about the newspaper new media business, please send me a note.

This column is written by Steve Outing and underwritten by Editor & Publisher magazine. Tips, letters and feedback can be sent to Steve at


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here