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Newspapers, Roll Up!

Posted on Friday, Mar 2nd 2007

There has been a lot of coverage on the dwindling fortunes of old media, especially the newspaper industry. Some of mine are Media Shuffles and Newspapers, Wake Up!. But.

I am one of those people who believe that quality content will still need business models supporting it, and new media’s heavy reliance on FREE user-generated content has its limitations, and may not be sustainable. Thus, I have an interest in the survival of content producer companies, and would like to see them reinvent themselves, not die.

Jon Fine wrote a very nice piece recently in Business Week about Gannett (GCI), the largest newspaper company in the US. The nugget of the piece is that Gannett is doing a good job with a new media strategy that they call Pro-Am. Meaning, Professional writers produce the Anchor Content, and Amateur writers weigh in with User Content.

I believe, this will become the established formula for most newspapers and magazines in a few years, as the eco-system rearranges itself.

To give you an example, I have recently started syndicating some of my blog writings to a financial publisher called Seeking Alpha. Their value proposition is to aggregate equity research and articles, to make it the single most comprehensive destination for stock research for individual and institutional investors. They have a deal with Yahoo! Finance, whereby, if you plug in a ticker in Yahoo, you get a link to see what the financial blogs are saying about this company. The service is powered by Seeking Alpha.


Why would Wall Street Journal and Business Week not avail of such a service? Lots of readers already come to to read about various companies. Especially, about companies that they have stake in. It is a shame, that WSJ and Business Week loses this audience today, to Yahoo! Finance, or directly to Seeking Alpha.

Instead, I would like to see WSJ and BW reorient their offerings, such that they provide Anchor Content, and leverage something like Seeking Alpha for User Content.

Similarly, other categories like Travel (Lufthansa just bought a huge ad inventory across 100 Travel Blogs via Washington Post’s BlogRoll program), Book Reviews, Film Reviews, etc. could be rolled up into a Pro-Am / Anchor Content-User Content mode, and the Newspapers immediately would have a strategy to counter new media. NYT and Washington Post could roll up political writings from the blogosphere. The Economist could roll up economic analysis.

The other opportunity that a Seeking Alpha provides is for, say, Washington Post, to easily get into Financial coverage by licensing the Seeking Alpha content. In areas where a newspaper has gaps, like Business in the case of the Post, they could also selectively syndicate bloggers who specialize in that area.

There is so much Am-Content out there right now, it is a real shame that the big brands are not leveraging them.

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