MediaNews uses Topix for online newspaper comments
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. newspaper publisher MediaNews Group Inc has enlisted Topix.com to run the online forums and comments sections that people use to discuss articles they read in its papers, Topix said on Tuesday.
The companies did not disclose the financial terms, but Topix Chief Executive Chris Tolles said in an interview that they will share revenue from advertisements on the comment and forum pages.
Topix, which is owned by U.S. newspaper publishers Gannett Co Inc, McClatchy Co and Tribune Co, started out as an online news archive, but has repositioned itself as a provider of local online news discussion forums.
"What we're recognizing here is that this is a place where there's no coverage and no story being told at the truly local level," Tolles said.
Topix is trying to seize a bigger piece of the local advertising market. Tolles cited a report by eMarketer released last September saying that local and national businesses advertising in local markets on the Internet will spend $7.8 billion in 2011, compared with $2.9 billion in 2007.
Privately held MediaNews is using Topix on the sites of two Massachusetts papers, the Lowell Sun and the Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg. It also is on the Connecticut Post in Bridgeport and The News-Times in Danbury, Connecticut.
For example, comments posted on the New England Patriots football team would show up, Tolles said, on the Sun's Web site as well as the Boston and Patriots forums on Topix.
Providing comments and forums for MediaNews's 61 daily papers moves Topix further into the mainly smaller communities that the Denver-based publisher serves.
MediaNews owns many smaller dailies such as the Bennington Banner in Vermont and The Deming Headlight in New Mexico.
Using online discussion forums is a good way for online newspapers to get plenty of space for ads even as they cut down on the number of reporters they use to produce news.
"They've got to see more content on their site and the easiest and cheapest way to get it is to harness the local community," Outsell Inc media analyst Ken Doctor said.
Topix plans to add 30 to 40 more MediaNews papers' Web sites to the list in the next several weeks and plans to complete the process by early 2008.
(Editing by Andre Grenon)