Swedish Newspapers Join in New Web Venture

By: Steve Outing

A trend you'll see a lot of in 1996 will be newspapers -- and other media -- banding together on the World Wide Web rather than going it alone. In the U.S., New Century Network, which is expected to make some substantial announcements soon, will combine the independent online services of dozens of newspapers. In the next year or two, it will be rare to find a newspaper online service that's going it entirely alone.

In Sweden, a new Web service just launched called Scandinavia Today (ST), a regional mega Web site that is bringing together the content of -- eventually -- 55 newspapers and assorted other content providers. The site currently includes 5 newspapers: Dagens Politik (Stockholm), DalaDemokraten (Falun), Ostra Smaland (Kalmar), Republikens Tidnig, and Nya Norrland (Harnosand). ST plans to bring 3 or 4 additional newspapers online per month up to the full 55. The site is presented in the Swedish language.

Most of the participating newspapers are coming online by themselves, according to Henrik Tengby, media developer for Riksmedia AB, one of the partners in ST. What ST does is mirror the papers' sites, or merely link to them, and provide national content services to attract a wide audience to ST -- and thus to the newspaper sites. ST becomes a one-stop media stop for Swedish news.

Newspapers' contribution to the ST service includes delivering to the Stockholm headquarters of ST a summary of the top news in each day's paper (not full content, since Swedish journalists' unions and newspaper owners have not yet come to agreement on pay for publishing newspaper articles online), plus local classified ads. The Stockholm office edits these contributions (plus those of freelancers and some material from a Swedish news agency) into a daily package presented on the ST site.

Content on ST includes the edited news summaries and articles broken out into different areas (News, Economy, Features, Music & Pleasure, and Sports); a classified section featuring ads from multiple publishers; Bengans CD-shop, an online music store; and movie and music reviews.

Tengby reports that many of the participating Swedish newspapers are setting themselves up as Internet service providers (ISPs). "They have set up their own modem pools and sell email, Internet access and content in a package," he says. "It's been quite successful where it has started." Additional revenues will come from classified advertising: "They are going to sell space in Scandinavia Today together with their traditional ad space. 'Buy this space for an extra XX and you will also get it on the Web.' But nobody thinks that this is going to bring them any great loads of gold; at the very best it will pay for the work done." Once the archive of text and photos builds to a deep level, the publishers will also earn money from archive searches.

Tengby says newspapers need to take part in projects like ST because "if (publishers) are going to make money out of ANY online services, they have to be present where the most people are coming in. We believe that ST will be that place. If so, there will also be better opportunities for the local paper to sell space on their pages."

ST itself does not intend to make most of its money from selling ad space. "Instead, we have a strategy to take control over some major markets and offer a complete service for a great number of companies," he says, declining to reveal further details.

ST is a joint venture of RiksMedia AB, a sales and development company which handles the commercial activities on the site, and Avisa Centralredaktion AB, a news agency serving a large number of Swedish dailies. ST currently operates with a staff of 9.

While ST does not plan to offer translations of its service to English, it will expand to serve other Scandinavian countries, and produce seasonal content for tourists in English.

Henrik Tengby can be reached at henrik.tengby@riksmedia.se

Movin' On

Nancy Tracewell has taken a new job as director of business development for Sprint Multimedia in Kansas City, Missouri, where she will develop content for some of Sprint's online products. Tracewell formerly was electronic media director of the Kansas City Star.

Leah Gentry has left her position as online editor at the Orange County Register to become Internet editor at the Chicago Tribune.

Cohen's "5 Cyber-Rules for Marketers"

Bruce Cohen of the Weekly Mail & Guardian in Johannesburg, South Africa, has written a useful essay on the use of Web statistics by publishers that's worth a look. You can read it on the Web at http://www.mg.co.za:80/mg/news/dec22-statslies.html

Best Online Newspaper Services Competition

Please don't forget to nominate your own company or another for Editor & Publisher/The Kelsey Group's 1996 Best Online Newspaper Services Competition. The nomination form is on the Web at http://www.mediainfo.com/contest.form.html. Deadline for nominations is January 24, 1996. Winners will be announced at the Interactive Newspapers conference in San Francisco on February 24, 1996.

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


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