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Summary:

This has been in works for a while as an alternative to the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) newspaper consortium, as well as the Google-newspapers ad eff…

imageThis has been in works for a while as an alternative to the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) newspaper consortium, as well as the Google-newspapers ad effort, and now it is finally launching: Tribune, Gannett (NYSE: GCI), Hearst and the New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) are forming a joint new company called quadrantONE, and transferring some of their open online inventory to the firm to sell. A full list of affiliate sites in the network is here (PDF link). The four companies are also investing in the new company.

The JV company, headed by Dana Hayes (current SVP of sales at Tribune Interactive) as the interim CEO, will be based in Chicago and will hire 17 people. The network will have reach of about 50 million monthly unique visitors and covers 27 out of the top 30 markets, according to the company. It is open to adding other companies and newspapers into the network, though not as co-owners. Interestingly, when the reports about this JV started leaking out last year in November, MediaNews Group and Cox Newspapers were also supposed to be part of the talks, but are not included in the final deal, it seems.

Since the expressed purpose of the company is to help advertisers reach local audiences, some of the national/international papers NOT included: USA Today, a Gannett paper, and of The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune.

SFChronicle: quadrantONE will focus on display advertising and will let marketers target their ads by geography, subject and other categories. It is teaming with a yet-to-be-named technology company to supply a system that can provide ads to all the newspaper sites and report results to advertisers.

As NYT helpfully points out in a story, several of the newspapers in quadrantONE are also part of Yahoo

  1. If your school is approached by the Gannett/USA Today Collegiate Readership Program, I hope that you will consider this: They want to steal your college newspaper advertisers! They will financially beat your college newspaper down by drastically reducing your ad revenue so that they can either take over your college newspaper if it has potential for profit or simply put it out of business.

    The USA Today Collegiate Readership Program has been cleverly marketed to colleges and universities across the country as a way to enlighten our students and improve the journalism skills of the campus newspaper writers. On Feb. 15, 2008 a joint initiative called Quadrantone was announced by Gannett, The Tribune Newspapers, Hearst Corp and the New York Times. This program creates an unprecedented on line advertising platform that will allow this newly formed oligopoly to offer localized on line advertising on their member online newspaper websites to local advertisers who have relied on the college newspaper to reach students. With Quadrantone, even the on line editorial content can be customized to reach different demographic groups.

    Here is the bottom line- This USA Today program is nothing more than a surreptitious way to curry favor with students and administrators under the guise of providing a valuable educational service to our community. Make no mistake about it. The goal of the USA Today readership program is not to enlighten our students and broaden their perspectives as they would have you believe. Their sneaky plan involves bringing USA Today and usually the New York Times on campus along with the local metropolitan newspaper (usually a Gannett publication)- often “free of charge” to the students but paid for by the college administration or student government association. That way the program can count all of their newspapers on campus as paid circulation to justify ad rate increases. The typical metropolitan newspaper is written on an 8th grade reading level. Is that the kind of education and enlightenment that our students can look forward too?

    Why are they doing this? The average age of today’s metropolitan newspaper reader is 56 years old! The newspaper industry has the same dilemma as the tobacco industry. Their older customers are hooked but the new generation is not buying. When today’s readers die, so goes their readership. Therefore, to survive, Gannett and the other Quadrantone members are aggressively trying to establish a foothold on college campuses.

    A few days after the local metropolitan paper and the two national papers are made available for free in nice shiny racks on the college campus, the multitude of ad reps for the local metropolitan paper and Quadrantone will be calling on every local business within a 10-mile radius of the campus and they will of course call EVERY national advertiser that has used the local college paper in the last 5 years. They will offer the college newspaper advertiser a display ad rate so low that the advertiser will jump ship. Now that Quadrantone can offer locally targeted online advertising, the college newspapers that have local online advertising revenue will no longer be able to compete.

    But don't worry. When all looks lost, Gannett or some other newspaper giant might come to the rescue and buy out your college newspaper if it has the potential for profit. If not, they will just kill it by practically giving away their ads to the college market advertisers. If the college paper gets bought out, the students that are left now work for a huge multimedia conglomerate, and they can kiss goodbye the editorial freedom they have taken for granted.

    If the students start working for Gannett, they better not say something that Gannett does not agree with in the college paper, especially when it comes to politics. Study Gannett’s political mindset and commit it to memory or risk being shown the door. Gannett knows how the game is played. Gannett has already bought an independent college newspaper in Florida and is about to buy another student newspaper in Colorado. This is just the beginning. The alarming fact is that the USA Today Collegiate Readership Program marketers have duped students and their administrators into thinking that their motives are purely altruistic. That should insult the collective intelligence of our future leaders.

    The student newspaper, the last bastion of true freedom of expression in the print media, is slowly being destroyed by a modern day Citizen Kane.

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