A consortium of seven newspaper chains representing 176 daily papers across the US is announcing a broad partnership with Yahoo to share content, advertising and technology, another sign that the wary newspaper business is increasingly willing to shake hands with the technology companies they once saw as a threat.
In the first phase of the deal, the newspaper companies will begin posting their employment classified ads on Yahoo's classified jobs site, HotJobs, and start using HotJobs technology to run their own online career ads.
But the long-term goal of the alliance with Yahoo, according to one senior executive at a participating newspaper company, is to be able to have the content of these newspapers tagged and optimized for searching and indexing by Yahoo.
In that way, local news -- one of the pillars of the newspaper business -- would become part of a large information network that would increase usefulness for readers and value to advertisers.
"Now the industry has religion about the Internet, based on what has happened to the business in recent years," said the executive, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak for his company. "So there is a lot more genuine enthusiasm today."
The agreement could also come at an opportune time for Yahoo, which is seeking to regain the confidence of investors and the luster it has lost with some marketers.
The deal could also help position the company as a willing partner for traditional media companies, an effective counterpunch to a deal its archrival, Google, signed with 50 papers a few weeks ago, and could help it capture a larger portion of the fragmented local advertising market.
For the newspapers, which have struggled in recent years as readers and advertisers have flocked to the Internet, the deal represents an effort to earn a greater share of the fast-growing amount spent online on all types of ads.
"There has been a big question asked for a while as to how newspapers will navigate the online future," said William Dean Singleton, vice chairman and chief executive of MediaNews Group, one of the members of the consortium. "I think this is the answer to that question."
The consortium includes the MediaNews Group, Hearst, Belo, E.W. Scripps, the Journal Register Co, Lee Enterprises and Cox Enterprises. The group owns newspapers in 38 states, among them major metropolitan dailies including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Denver Post, with a combined daily circulation of 12 million.
Financial terms of the deal, which was to be announced yesterday, were not disclosed. Details of the HotJobs portion of the agreement were first reported on Saturday by the Wall Street Journal.
The agreement grew out of the existing partnership with HotJobs by MediaNews and Belo.
During the next year, the partnership will be extended as newspapers begin displaying their news articles and local ads on Yahoo's online network.
Yahoo, in turn, will make available local event listings, maps, search technology and other content and tools on the newspapers' Web sites. Yahoo will also use its technology to help newspaper sell online ads.
The arrangement "gives us the ability to monetize our content, an ability that we have not had great success with in the past," Singleton said.