Online-Original Content Finds Its Way to Print

By: Steve Outing

It's an indication that the media tide is slowly shifting. Content that originated in the online medium is now beginning to appear as syndicated material in printed newspapers.

Probably the most well known example is The Motley Fool, the personal investment advice service that originated on America Online and became wildly popular on the proprietary online service. The mix of consumer interaction and flip writing by brothers Tom and David Gardner was such a success that the Fool ventured out to its own Web site, and resulted in a hot-selling book.

The next step is that Motley Fool is now being syndicated to newspapers as a combination print/online feature. Universal Press Syndicate has picked up the feature and turned it into a weekly print compilation that includes short features on personal finance, a Q&A column, trivia, investment tutorials, and consumer investment success and failure stories.

A newspaper running the Fool typically will put its Web site address (URL) at the top of the feature, instructing print readers to go online to get the full experience of the Fool service, get twice-daily updates, and participate in its interactive forums. The URL will point to the newspaper's branded edition of the Fool online service, which actually resides on Universal Press' UClick Web site.

Revenue model

According to UPS editor and director of development Bill Mitchell, the deal with newspapers taking both online and print editions of the Fool is that the paper pays a syndication fee and shares online revenues for ads sold on the site. For a paper's Fool online edition there are two ad availabilities -- one is sold by the newspaper, which keeps those revenues, and the other is sold by UPS, which keeps those revenues.

The syndicated Fool service was rolled out just two weeks ago, and UPS sales representatives are out in force now. Mitchell concedes that it's primarily a print sale, with sales to newspapers' Web sites still secondary. But increasingly, says Mitchell, "syndicate salespeople try to get the print and online editors in the same room" for such cross-media features.

(To take a look at a beta version of the Web edition, see, where it is in beta for the Arizona Republic.)

UPS earlier this year released a similar online-originated feature called the Coaches' Edge, which includes a print component. Started by a group of former coaches from the University of Kansas, the Edge feature is designed as a way to teach coaches how to design and execute sports plays. The Web site features Shockwave animations of significant plays of the last week, with moving X's and O's illustrating the technique.

The print component of Coaches' Edge shows a static image of the Play of the Week, with an invitation to print viewers to check out the paper's Web site to see the animation and find further analysis and instruction.

The Edge feature was kicked off earlier this year with plays from the NCAA basketball championships in the U.S. To date, it appears in only a handful of newspapers.

Online first for crossword

Until recently, UPS did not carry a crossword in its content inventory, but the syndicate has now added an interactive crossword by puzzle master Tim Parker. Mitchell explains that this is first a Web site buy, with the printed crossword being secondary. The crossword is a Java applet that does not require a separate application for the Web consumer to download in order to play. The printed newspaper version of the crossword includes the newspaper URL to the interactive puzzle.

The model is similar to that of Motley Fool, with the crossword residing on UClick's server, which inserts the newspaper's branding and advertising.

As the importance of online media increases, we're likely to see more of this online-first content appear in printed newspapers. It's heartening to see that online media has moved well beyond a reliance on the print world for content -- and in fact the tables are turning, with online content creators making headway into supplying print media with new content.

Contact: Bill Mitchell,

Movin' On

Chris Feola has joined the American Press Institute as the Reston, Virginia-based newspaper education organization's first new media director. Feola is a writer on new media topics, has taught new media at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, and formerly was with the Waterbury (Connecticut) Republican-American. He reports that API is incorporating new more intently on new media issues, including creating an "online skunkworks" and experimenting with online avatars.

Contact: Chris Feola,


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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

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


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