Online newsHow can newspaper companies take advantage of opportunities created by the Internet and find new markets for their content? Donald W. Reynolds Fellow Connie Farrow believes the Missouri-based corporation she is working with has found a potential business model to help protect all types of newspaper content.

Technology is changing the way everyone does business these days, but this is especially true for the newspaper industry, Farrow says. Publishers struggle with online aggregators who are profiting from newspaper content without paying to produce or use it. Lawmakers in several states have also sought to pull public notice advertising from newspapers and publish it instead on government-controlled websites.

“There’s no question that the digital age has created challenges for the newspaper industry, but it also has created opportunities,” says Farrow. “Demand for news is greater than ever before. What newspapers haven’t fully figured out is how to take advantage of the digital age and to capitalize on new markets for their content outside of their communities.”

Farrow is the project manager for American Newspaper Digital Access Corporation (ANDAC), which was formed to help newspapers take advantage of technology to harness the value of their online content before it’s diluted on the Internet.

ANDAC Chairman Andy Waters, of the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune, recruited Farrow to create a technology solution to aggregate content of all types from newspapers across the United States into a single database – create new products based on that content – and return value back to the newspapers in support of journalism. The focus of Farrow’s fellowship is to test ANDAC’s business model.

Benefits of a database

Connie FarrowANDAC’s goal would be to gather all types of newspaper content — including news stories, as well as display, classified and public notice advertising — from American newspapers both large and small. It plans to convert the content and put it into a database that can be quickly and affordably repurposed.

Farrow says having an aggregated database of newspaper content creates some marketing opportunities. Potential target markets could include academic institutions, public libraries, corporations, public relations firms, government entities, as well as political campaigns. While traveling to do presentations about her fellowship work, Farrow has met many people who see a benefit in having the information available in a single database.

“I was in Iowa, and a man from the Iowa Farm Bureau told me agri-businesses are willing to pay for easy, timely access to news on the issues farmers are facing in the field,” says Farrow. “Another man in Columbia (Mo.) is creating a medical platform and is interested in health-related news. There are people who are immensely interested in the content newspapers are producing.”

The digital technology that Farrow is researching also could allow ANDAC to publish public notices electronically on a website in a timely fashion. This could help undercut the efforts of state lawmakers and others who seek to publish newspaper content on government-controlled sites, she says.

A benefit for advertising, too

Advertising is another area of opportunity, Farrow says.

“The technology we are exploring allows us to link the digital file with a PDF of the original news page, providing a solution for digital tearsheeting for advertising. We can cut labor costs and speed payments to newspapers,” she says.

A system like this could pose other benefits to the newspaper industry, Farrow says.

“Nothing is firm yet,” she says. “We are exploring a lot of options. These are just a few of the ideas we have. But it’s exciting because the possibilities are numerous.”

ANDAC is a trusted source

ANDAC is owned by newspaper publishers and press associations leaders from Iowa, Missouri and Kansas who want to help newspapers take advantage of the digital age and to not be threatened by it, Farrow says.

“By being owned by newspaper associations and individuals from within the newspaper industry, ANDAC is a trusted source that can ensure the content will only be used for contractually intended purposes,” she says. “What ANDAC offers is credibility.”

The one thing ANDAC is not interested in is working with online aggregators that will compete with newspapers for readers in their own communities, Farrow says.

“We’re focusing on a business to business model, rather than a business to consumer model,” she says.

Next step

As part of her fellowship, Farrow is working with a group of graduate students in the business administration program at the University of Missouri to help test ANDAC’s proof of concept and use their creative thinking to identify potential end users for each segment of the content.


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