Newspapers, Yahoo looking at partnership

In a world where the Internet provides news and advertising on demand, newspapers are struggling to attract readers and revenues. In particular, the rise of classified advertising sites like Craigslist has led to a corresponding slide in ad revenues for the tabloids and broadsheets.

Yahoo, the most-trafficked nonpornographic website in the world, and a number of newspapers are in discussions about working together on news, classified ads, and "content packages" focused on certain topics. Local newspapers would "feed" their news to Yahoo, which would then aggregate it for readers based on their location or other factors.

The low-hanging fruit is classified ads, especially jobs. "Help-wanted is the quick cash," according to a source close to the negotiations. By partnering with Yahoo to host help-wanted and other classified ads, the newspapers would be able to make their classified offerings more attractive as they would be hosted in an easily searchable and high-profile location and could be readily targeted to readers all over the country.

Online help-wanted ads are nothing new. Craigslist has a "help wanted" section, and other jobs sites already exist, including CareerBuilder, a joint venture of the Tribune, Gannet, and Knight Ridder newspaper companies.

Newspapers have been struggling to figure out a way to embrace the Internet while continuing to remain profitable. Paid subscriptions for online content have failed for all but truly high-profile publications like the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. For the rest, paying for content online has proven to be a turn-off for readers, and some newspapers are even doing away with registrations, choosing instead to offer up their content unencumbered.

The Internet has irrevocably changed the game for newspapers, and at this point, it's a matter of their figuring out a way to keep readers interested both offline and on. A tie-in to a major portal like Yahoo! may boost the fortunes of some local papers, but it won't replace 50¢ dropped in the newspaper box on the corner.

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