Who Will Gather the News? Media General Aligns with Yahoo!

Media General Inc., owner of newspapers in Richmond, Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Danville, Bristol and other Virginia cities, has entered into a strategic alliance with Yahoo! and a consortium of other newspaper chains. Media General newspapers will transition their online career sections to Yahoo’s HotJobs platform, with the goal of creating one of the most comprehensive jobs networks in the country. (See press release.)

The move attempts to address the dangerous erosion of employment classified ads, traditionally one of the most profitable revenue sources for daily newspapers. Said Neal F. Fondren, president of the Interactive Media Division: “Our visitors will benefit the Yahoo! state-of-the-art search and targeting features and user-friendly tools. Advertisers can also use contextual, streaming and interactive media to engage job candidates as well as leverage Real Simple Syndication feeds, job search agents, newsletters and a job recommendation engine.”

Clearly, Media General is better off aligning itself with the Yahoo!-led consortium than trying to develop these interactive tools itself. But the move is essentially defensive, an attempt to staunch the hemorrhaging of market share in a former newspaper monopoly. It will be interesting to see if the Yahoo! initiative leads to similar deals to salvage market share in automobile and real estate classified ads.

As memory serves, classified ads generally account for roughly half the profits of the typical daily newspaper. It is essential that newspapers find a way to preserve this revenue stream. If they can’t, they face a very bleak economic future. And the rest of us will face a future with a much-diminished stream of local news.

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3 responses to “Who Will Gather the News? Media General Aligns with Yahoo!”

  1. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I think anyone who is in the business of making their living off of essentially being a “gatekeeper” of information these days better be preparing to transition to a different business model.

    We know that news is on the block but so are businesses like auto sales, real estate sales, even stock market analysts, etc.

    There ARE folks “out there” that are willing to SELL such info for a fraction of what it used to cost.

    Take Zillow – a website that will tell you exactly what your property is worth without having to “pay” for an appraisal.

    I did just that earlier this year – paid an appraiser after the county DOUBLED the valuation on a unimproved lot.

    The appraiser for $200 came up with the same number.

    Then I went to Zillow and for FREE – it gave me the same number.. using the same process – the closest “comps”…

    Similarily … what is playing out with “news” is that only those that truly “source” it.. do the grunt work to dig it out… are going to be able to sell it.

    and just like was pointed out in a separate thread.. Mr. Bacon goes to the same event as a WaPo reporter and comes up with a totally different “take” on the event … and WHO is paying the WaPo guy and why?

  2. E M Risse Avatar

    Unitl there is an understanding of the orgaic structure of settlement patterns (and the economic, social and physical structue of society) and “news” is gathered and dicenminated at each scale from Dooryard to Cluster to Neighborhood to Village to Community to subregion to New Urban Region and Urban Support Region to nation-state to continent / subcontinent to global MainStreet Media will continue to fail to provide a product from which they can make money.


  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Media General has among the weakest Web pages of any news organization in the region. Don’t believe me? Look at the Post, Pilot or Roanoke Times, which all have content-rich and reader-friendly sites. Times-Dispatch Publisher Thomas A. Silvestri has been quoted as saying that he wants to starve the TD’s webpages of content so they won’t draw eyeballs away from the printed product, which has suffered serious circulation declines. With long-term thinking such as that, no wonder MG is in such a mess.

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