Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Positive about Newspapers

With all the bad news about the declining newspaper industry, it's tough to find something positive to say when you're wrapped up in it. Declining profits, buyouts, newsroom cutbacks. You name it, the industry has seen it all in the last few years.

But after about a decade as a Gannett newspaper editor, I've spent almost a year on the other side of that fence -- working for an Internet startup company, developing a Web site and assessing the content's connection to the readership.

Part of the job is to search for partnerships with other news organizations interested in offering our stories on their sites. The more partners, the more they use your content. The more they use your content, the more the traffic builds. It's a pretty basic way to build online readers.

While our stories routinely get picked up by msn.com (Yesterday, our content was on the home page.) and other online sites, we've been searching for another way to increase traffic online -- through a partnership with newspapers.

Why? The CEO of our company, Cotter Cunningham, explains it by using his previous experience at bankrate.com, which built its traffic not just through its online partnerships but also through its partnerships with traditional print products. The more newspapers picked up the content, the more the online traffic increased.

This week, we signed a contract with McClatchy-Tribune to provide relationship content on its wire service to newspapers around the country. For me, it's an interesting twist. After spending years in the newspaper industry moving from print to online, I now work for an organization that's moving from online to print.

Funny how the world works. For all the bad news about the newspaper industry's decline, it's still offers something of importance to other mediums. Newspapers provide readers. It's just that simple.

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