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Dailies Down but Intros Up as Feature Marketplace Evolves

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Dailies Down but Intros Up as Feature Marketplace Evolves

Article excerpt

The growth of the Web is one reason why syndicates offer more content than they did a decade ago

Between 1989 and 1999, the number of U.S. dailies decreased from 1,642 to 1,489. During that same period, the number of features and packages distributed by seven major syndicates rose from 612 to 792.

If there are fewer daily papers - and tighter news holes - why are syndicates offering more material?

Part of the reason is that one of the seven, Creators Syndicate, was only 2 years old in 1989 and still adding features faster than older syndicates. It built its roster from 28 features a decade ago to 86 today, partly by taking over Heritage Features Syndicate in 1991. And Universal Press Syndicate increased its lineup from 68 in 1989 to 123 today, partly by purchasing Chronicle Features in 1997.

But Universal, Creators, and several other syndicates also added plenty of their own content, according to a comparison of their ads in E&P's 1989 and 1999 syndicate directories - from which the 612 and 792 figures were compiled. The five other firms measured were King Features Syndicate, Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Tribune Media Services (tms), United Media, and Washington Post Writers Group (wpwg). (Copley News Service wasn't included because virtually all its 1989 features were sold in packages, and the New York Times Syndicate wasn't included because its 1999 directory ad didn't list all of its offerings.)

One reason for the growth in syndicated material is that a number of newspapers have cut staff to save money or reallocated resources to concentrate more on local coverage. Papers that reallocate, says tms president and ceo David Williams, realize there are certain things syndicates can do better and more cost effectively.

These things include packages and services, which are growing at a faster pace than individual features. In 1989, the seven syndicates had 50 packages and services. This year? About 125.

Another reason for the growth in syndicated content, says Creators president and chief operating officer Mike Santiago, is that many newspaper editors want more varied offerings - including columns and comics by females and minorities. "We at Creators and other syndicates are trying to satisfy the need for diversity," he says. …

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