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Digital City Signs Metro Dailies: Minneapolis Star Tribune Is Latest to Sign a Partnership Pact with the America Online Spinoff

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Digital City Signs Metro Dailies: Minneapolis Star Tribune Is Latest to Sign a Partnership Pact with the America Online Spinoff

Article excerpt

Digital City Inc., the America Online spinoff that's creating online community guides in many U.S. cities, is beginning to sign partnership agreements with large metro daily newspapers.

The trend is noteworthy because metro dailies previously shied away from cooperating with Digital City for fear of "aiding the competition."

Digital City's "guides" are essentially online news and feature publications that directly compete with newspapers to deliver local news and recruit local advertisers.

In the past, DCI's local media partners have tended to be limited to alternative newspapers, suburban papers, TV stations and the like, rather than a city's dominant newspapers.

DCI, which is 20% owned by the Tribune Co., had only a single high-profile partnership with a major daily - the Tribune Co.'s Chicago Tribune that participates in Digital City Chicago.

But in late December, DCI announced that it had signed a "Twin Cities Digital City" cooperative deal with the Star Tribune, a member of the Cowles chain and the largest newspaper in Minnesota. And in Southern California, the Los Angeles Daily News has also become an information provider to the Los Angeles Digital City.

The Star Tribune deal appears to mark a change in the relationship of the U.S. newspaper industry with DCI. During the first half of 1996, newspaper publishers generally said they felt DCI was "arrogant" in its negotiations and wanted so much of their newspapers, content that it would hurt their own Web sites. But that's changed, says Star Tribune Online publisher Robert Schafer. This time around DCI was much more flexible and open to negotiating a deal that worked for the newspaper, he said.

The deal makes the Star Tribune the "primary" information provider for the Twin Cities Digital City. While declining to discuss specifics, Schafer said the Star Tribune's role will be that of primary or favored news source. It will provide selected news stories; entertainment listings, calendars, previews and reviews; and host bulletin board discussions and live chat sessions on the Twin Cities Digital City. This even as the Star Tribune continues to run its "Star Tribune Online," a large, independent Internet Web site operated by a 30-member editorial, advertising and technical staff. …

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