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Read all about it: Newspapers are saved!

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Yep — we don’t have to worry about the fate of newspapers anymore. They’ve got a new business plan, and the money’s gonna start rollin’ in. Advertisers will be flocking back to newspapers (online, anyway) in droves, throwing money at ’em as fast as they can.

And it’s so easy, they say. Fight fire with fire. Or, in this case, fight Google and Yahoo with According to a Bob Tedeschi story in Monday’s New York Times:

The Washington Post, The New York Sun and The Daily Oklahoman, in Oklahoma City, have contracted with an online news aggregator,, to scan hundreds of news and blog sites and deliver content related to articles appearing on their Web sites, regardless of who published those articles. Links to those articles will appear in a box beside the site’s original article or within the text of the story.

Newspaper Web sites, which commonly post articles from sister publications, wire services and even blogs, have typically stopped short of providing generous doses of news from competitors. The move made by these papers is not a result of cooperation across the industry as it is a counterattack by publishers against Google and Yahoo, which have stolen readers and advertisers from newspapers in recent years, both with their search engines and their own news aggregation services.

Waiddaminute. That’s it? Add more links to your stories? Links to your biggest competitors? Links to stories that more often that not will only repeat what your story says in the first place? So you’re gonna add links to the stories you’ve already cribbed from Reuters and the AP and box in more links to other papers — who’ve cribbed the same stories from Reuters and the AP? That’s your new business model? More from Bob’s story:

“This lets us be a search engine,” said Kelly Dyer Fry, director of multimedia for Opubco Communications Group, which publishes the Oklahoman and its Web site, “We look at it like we just hired 30,000 journalists, because now we can give you our story and what the rest of the world is saying about it.”

Are you kiddin’ me? First, you didn’t hire 30,000 journalists. And it won’t look like you did, either. And we can tell because you’ve got so few journalists covering the same stories at the same lack of depth that all the links you’ll be adding will be reflecting the same crap. “Search engine” indeed.

So why is the Oklahoma paper doing this?

The site’s roughly 700,000 registered users view about 36 million pages online each month, with each user viewing three to five pages per visit. And that is not enough to satisfy the demands of advertisers. Because Inform gives readers an easy way to find related stories that were published earlier on, Ms. Fry said she expected the number of page views on the site to increase by at least threefold. [emphasis added]

Tripling the page views is gonna rescue the news biz’ business model? I’m trying to imagine how many advertisers are really going to buy this shtick. Yes, online ad revenues are rising (5.5 percent of overall newspaper revenue, the story says). But no, this is not going to dramatically rescue a balance sheet reddened by dead-tree advertising migrating elsewhere. And especially the classified revenue, which is gone for good.

And there’s more spin on this sin from Ms. Fry:

People aren’t just reading one story. They’ll click deeper because of this, and I can load ads deeper into those pages. It really beefs up the site.

Deeper? Into what, Ms. Fry? In fact, any mention at all about increasing the depth of insight in coverage instead of increasing the number of stories containing the same crap ad nauseam? And how many times will readers “dig deeply” after their first few tries strike a shallow ledge of crap? Disappointment breeds reader desertion.

Even the editor of, Jim Brady, is stretching to sell this:

We think it’s the right thing to do. It seems limiting to tell people about something another news organization has reported and not point them to it. It goes against the Web’s DNA., which will be the only revenue winner in this, methinks, generates the links automatically. Mr. Brady makes it seem as if links will be carefully and deliberately added. No news organization has the time for that.

I can hear Clara Peller now: “Where’s the beef?”


Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 31, 2006 at 5:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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