New and Old Media Begin Working Together

Print newspapers are losing money and readers to online news sources. But rather than fight to the death, some papers have decided to try to work with their online competitors.

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The Internet companies Yahoo and Google have both announced new partnerships with major newspapers in recent weeks. In doing so, the papers are embracing some of the very Internet competitors that have been hurting them. Fewer people are reading newspapers because they're getting their news online, and that's been bad for newspaper ad revenues.

But now the papers are deciding they might have a lot to gain by striking deals with the most popular sites on the Web. NPR's Chris Arnold reports.

CHRIS ARNOLD: These days, your local newspaper has to compete for your attention with hundreds of Web sites. There are major national news sites, rental listings of Craig's List, stuff for sale on eBay, blogs, movie reviews -all things most people used to just look for in their local paper, and papers made a lot of money selling ads around all that content.

Lauren Rich Fine is a newspaper stock analyst with Merrill Lynch.

Ms. LAUREN RICH FINE (Newspaper Stock Analyst, Merrill Lynch): Economics 101 will tell you if I had a near-monopoly before and was able to charge accordingly and I now have a competitive model, I'm not going to be as profitable.

ARNOLD: With readership and revenues dwindling, the stocks of some major newspaper companies have been driven down by 40 to 50 percent in recent years. But some Internet companies differ with Wall Street's gloom and doom take on newspapers.

Mr. DAN FINNEGAN (Senior Vice President, Yahoo): I think it's exaggerated.

ARNOLD: Dan Finnegan is a senior vice president at Yahoo. He used to run all the Internet operations for Knight Ridder newspapers. Yahoo's just announced a deal where it's joining forces with the parent companies of 176 different papers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal Constitution and the San Jose Mercury News.

Mr. FINNEGAN: Well, we both bring a lot to the table in this partnership. And I think it is a very big opportunity for both of us.

ARNOLD: Finnegan says Yahoo will get local news content from the local papers. The papers will get help from Yahoo designing and running their Web sites, and they will share ad revenues. Finnegan says take the classifieds. If a hospital places a help wanted ad for nurses in the paper, that ad can also go out on Yahoo's HotJobs site and in direct e-mails to Yahoo users.

Mr. FINNEGAN: Many Yahoo users tell us what their occupation is, their industry is and tell us they want additional information about jobs. So that if you're a nurse in Seattle - and maybe you're not looking for a new nursing job - a recruiter who may be willing to pay you more money or may have a job that's closer to where you live can message you either through e-mail or even as a banner ad when you're, you know, checking out Yahoo news.

ARNOLD: Finnegan thinks this added reach will allow newspapers to once again make some more money on classifieds even after Yahoo gets a cut. Google recently announced a different deal with a bunch of major papers, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. In that deal, Google has created an online marketplace for advertisers to place bids to buy actual print ads. It's similar to how people bid for hotel rooms on Priceline.

Mr. BEN SCHACHTER (Internet Analyst, UBS): Many traditional media companies -newspapers, TV - have to basically say to the online guys, are you our friend or our foe?

ARNOLD: Ben Schachter is an Internet analyst at UBS. He says these kinds of creative partnerships signal a change in thinking on the part of newspapers.

Mr. SCHACHTER: In a way, it's basically saying, hey, we can't do this on our own. That's not our skill set. We are not a company that knows how to best monetize ads online. Companies like Google and Yahoo, that's what they do. That's what's in their DNA. That's how they're set up. And the newspaper guys didn't want to share the economics for many years.

ARNOLD: But Schachter says with online readership growing, this is a good move for the newspapers to make because they've been stumbling online. He says often their Web sites are poorly organized and don't make it easy for advertisers to place ads. The Google auction system is supposed to fix that. Denise Warren is chief advertising officer for the New York Times Media Group.

Ms. DENISE WARREN (Chief Advertising Officer, New York Times Media Group): Our hope is that we'll be able to open up a whole new segment of advertisers to the New York Times.

ARNOLD: Warren says the auction system has already brought in ads from smaller companies who had never advertised in the paper before.

Chris Arnold, NPR News.

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Reading Between the Lines: Classified Ads 101

Man reading classified ads

Throw away the newspaper and pick up the computer mouse if you're trying to reach urban dwelling bikers. Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Corbis

Newspaper classified ads — so familiar, so conventional. Online classified ads — they're the new frontier. But which is more effective? We asked newspaper and e-commerce experts for guidance.

Should I place my ad online or in print?

Online is typically best for reaching youth, urban dwellers, bike riders. If you're trying to reach anyone younger than 30, go online, says Michael Schrage, who has written about advertising issues for Wired. Newspapers, however, still do a fine job with ads aimed at the older generation.

For specialty items, a newspaper might offer a broader market.

"Say you live in a marine area and you're trying to sell a boat," says Emily Riley, an e-commerce analyst at JupiterResearch. The local rag will most likely get a bigger audience for your ad. A local paper is also perfectly appropriate for a yard sale.

On the other hand, if you're trying to sell something you can ship, or if you live in a rural area, an online ad will get more eyeballs.

Do the same rules apply for selling or buying a car?

A lot of people research cars online. It's a great way to check prices for new and used vehicles (see best sites, below). But only 1 in 10 will shop for cars on the Internet. So print makes sense — although it "depends on where you live," says Riley. "In Silicon Valley, obviously more people are going to list online."

What about real estate?

Again, age is the key. The number of people viewing real-estate classified ads online is relatively small: about 17 percent of the U.S. population. But that number ticks up to 22 percent among home-buyers and apartment renters younger than 24. (And as they age, they'll keep their online real-estate habit.)

Of course, there's nothing wrong with trying both options. Riley recommends listing your house in print but also placing ads on a site like craigslist.com, which is especially popular among young people looking for short-term rentals. "If you're subletting or renting," she says, "craigslist.com is the place to go." (See more on craigslist.com at bottom)

What if I'm trying to find or post a job?

The kind of job makes a difference. If you're a CPA or lawyer, for example, and are interested in working in a small, private practice, you'll find more options in the newspaper. Hourly positions are also more likely to be posted in the newspaper. But if you work for the government or in the tech industry, chances are you'll do better online.

"Recent college grads are looking online," says Riley. "Almost 30 percent of people under 35 job hunt online."

TOOLS YOU CAN USE:

Best Car Websites:

Kelley Blue Book: Search by sticker price and invoice price for all used and new cars.

Edmonds.com Provides info on specific models, guides to buying used and new vehicles and prices for used and new cars. There are also forums where you can ask questions to other users about purchasing or trading in your vehicle.

Craigslist.com: The biggest, free classified site on the Internet, craigslist.com is a must-bookmarksite for anyone looking to buy or sell — well, anything. The site is visited daily by most online users younger than 35, is easily searchable, and best of all — totally free (it makes money by charging for job ads in certain cities.) The site is separated by cities, so you can post an ad and know you'll reach the locals. There's also no harm in a twofer: craigslist as well as print (see Primer at bottom)

Best Home-Buying Websites:

Riley recommends craiglist.com for all apartment rentals and sublets. Many local real-estate brokers list houses online, as do large companies like Remax, realtor.com and Century21.

Best Job-Hunting Websites:

Jobster.com — A new, searchable job-hunting Web site that allows job seekers to tag themselves with keywords for companies to search. The site also allows potential employees to post resumes and answer questions like "What would a movie about your life be called?"

Monster.com – The mother of all job Web sites allows you to post your resume and search more than 100,000 job postings. It's heavy on retail, marketing and tech jobs.

Craigslist.com – Though almost everything on craigslist.com is free, posting a job in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington D.C., is not. What this means: Employers in these cities posting on craigslist.com want employees and are willing to pay a premium to find good ones. Be forewarned: Craigslist jobs is hit-or-miss depending on where you live and which industry you work in (tech is good; journalism — not so much.)

Craigslist: A Primer

Craiglist.com is not flashy. It looks like a Web site from 1995. That's when the site began as a community bulletin board for the San Francisco Bay area. It was (and is) free. And it has always been anonymous (which means any ad you post does not contain your e-mail address — instead, replies are forwarded to you through an anonymous address.)

Founder Craig Newmark was onto something. Craiglist is now in every major city in the United States, as well as many countries around the globe. More than 15 million people use craigslist each month, posting more than 12 million new ads. Knowing how to tap into this audience is invaluable for selling or buying stuff.

"Craigslist has an improvisational quality," Michael Schrage notes. "What you write is not set in stone. And there's a difference between simply knowing how to post and knowing how to post well."

A tip: Craigslist is searchable, which means you want to spell out exactly what you are listing. People use keywords to search, so you'll want to use specifics when describing your goods.

"One of the biggest mistakes people make is taking what they think a print ad is and posting it to craigslist.com," says Schrage. "The whole notion of using unusual words or condensed headlines doesn't work."

If you're not familiar with craigslist.com, Schrage recommends taking 15 to 20 minutes to familiarize yourself with the site.

"You can see which ads you personally find interesting and then mimic them," he says. "Craigslist isn't a list. It has a personality. It has style. It has an ethos, unlike print."

For example, listing an apartment as a "luxury palace" is creative, but not necessarily a phrase that users will search for. Describe exactly what amenities your place has: "a closet with one small window and occasional heating" says a lot more than "small fixer-upper."

A helpful tip: Read the posting guidelines and check the FAQ before you post. Because people can respond to your ad anonymously, some responses may be offensive or inappropriate. Do not respond to any messages that ask for any personal information. If you have any doubts about any e-mails you receive, delete them. And if you're in the market for a "small fixer-upper" in Washington D.C., please let me know.

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