Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Suburban Papers Trade Content for Traffic

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Suburban Papers Trade Content for Traffic

Article excerpt

Web giants like AOL have huge audiences, but need localized content, which papers can provide

Suburban newspapers and large Internet outfits Like America Online may not seem to have much in common, but both have something the other needs, says Steve Case, chairman and CEO of AOL in Dulles, Va. "While you're trying to figure out this new medium, don't let somebody else usurp your role as the community leader," Case said Sept. 24 at the Suburban Newspapers of America's fall gathering in Washington.

Echoing his thoughts was Michael J. O'Hara, general manager of the Princeton Packet, Princeton, N.J., who said news is the newspaper industry's market to lose. The Packet's 18 papers serve 13 communities, and its Web operation, launched in 1996, gets 1 million-plus page views per month, he said. Of the people who use online services, 45% want local news, O'Hara said, and suburban papers are as local as you can get.

Case noted that 700 community papers are online, and that the top 100, and 95 of the bottom 100, papers have Web sites. He believes the question before suburban newspapers is, What business model will take them into the next century? …

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