Summary:

Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) executives took two days last month to meet with members of the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium to quell any anxiety over the…

Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) executives took two days last month to meet with members of the Yahoo Newspaper Consortium to quell any anxiety over the company’s commitment and focus as Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) proposed takeover overshadows its every move. According to a long, special report on the consortium by E&P, the consortium’s members left the conclave expressing relief and faith that Yahoo is not becoming distracted by Microsoft’s moves, at least in the near term. Still, Yahoo has a lot of work to do to maintain its members’ confidence, considering that its total membership – 26 publishers – joined the upstart newspaper ad alliance quadrantOne backed by the New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), Tribune, Gannett (NYSE: GCI) and Hearst.

Promises: Yahoo told attendees that there are now 572 people working full-time on the newspaper consortium and it could devote another 200 to it over the next several months. Yahoo also outlined plans to offer advanced targeting according to demographics, geography and consumer behavior. Cox Newspapers President Jay Smith, came in somewhat angst-ridden, but left a Thursday night dinner at the Four Seasons with Yahoo execs, including president Sue Decker and Hilary Schneider, EVP-Global Partner Solutions, practically enraptured: “I was blown away by the intensity and the commitment they are making to the partnership… I did the math in my head – calculating the commitment that Yahoo is making is in the tens of millions of dollars.” MediaNews Group CEO William Dean Singleton was also won over by the presentation, even saying he wasn’t bothered that the new targeting platform missed its deadline for release.

If Microsoft takes over: Singleton expressed indifference over the prospect of Microsoft buying Yahoo: “My view is that it’s up to Yahoo to decide whether they are going to be bought by Microsoft or not, and we’re supportive if they decide to be bought, and we’re supportive if they decide not to be bought.” Microsoft, which has a 4 percent stake in Yahoo HotJobs’ rival CareerBuilder, has also sought to head off any worries about its intentions and immediately reached out to newspaper consortium members after it announced its initial $44.6 billion bid for the company.

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