Newspapers Buy Into Topix.net, Dip Their Toes Into Local Web Advertising

from the and-so-it-goes... dept

It's turning into quite a week for deals to be announced. Yahoo buys Flickr, Barry Diller buys Ask Jeeves and HP buys Snapfish. Next up, is Topix.net... which hasn't fully been bought out, but close enough. The news aggregation site (which we helped announce back when it launched) has carved itself up and sold off 25% each to three big newspaper players: Knight Ridder, Gannett and the Tribune Media Company. The folks at Topix.net keep the remaining 25%. It's sort of halfway between flipping the business and raising money (and the VCs were definitely circling and definitely interested). Topix.net remains an independent company (in fact, being own in equal parts by three competitors should help guarantee that). However, what's interesting is that, in the wake of many news organizations showing just how much they don't get the internet, here are three who appear to be making a real effort to adapt to the changes in the media world. Topix.net has always been based on the model of taking away ad revenue from local papers -- and this deal acts as a way for those papers to get further involved in cannibalizing their own print revenue, should it come to that (rather than just letting Topix.net cannibalize it all by themselves). The more interesting question may be how other news organizations respond. The backwards thinking ones may fear "helping the competition" and pull an AFP and "opt-out" of Topix.net's crawl. Topix.net CEO Rich Skrenta doesn't think it will be a problem, noting: "For other publishers in our crawl, this deal will serve to drive them even more traffic than they're getting from us and our partners now. If a site has a functioning online business model, it should want more traffic and more distribution. If more online audience yields more revenue, you don't want less places linking to you." Of course, you could make the same argument about AFP -- but hopefully not all news organizations are so brain dead.
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