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News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) is planning closer integration between its new Wall Street Journal website and its existing News International publications in the UK. Times Online EIC Anne Spackman told me WSJ bosses flew to London today to meet her team: “It will be partly about tools, partly about deep linking to each other’s content. Wall Street Journal is such a powerful brand.” Away from just The Times, she suggested The Sun has plenty in common with The New York Post, too.
During an earlier session at the Periodical Publishers Association’s Magazines 2008 conference in London, Spackman said: “We are increasingly linking to them around subjects of common interest. Our friends Down under at news.com.au – we link to sport with them on cricket and rugby; with the Wall Street Journal, it will be the same on business. It will be an extremely useful thing in a way that it would never have been when we were only selling to our home audiences and when there was no power of the link.” But she cautioned it’s very early days on the exact form of integration, and nothing’s decided upon yet – Spackman is due to meet the WSJ folks later today to discuss options.
Last week, The Times said it was working with WSJ to develop ad cross-selling opportunities from a new New York office, now it seems the integration will be editorial too. Not surprising – Times editor Robert Thomson quit to become Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ publisher late last year.
Spackman also revealed The Times is working with Microsoft’s new Fast Search + Transfer acquisition to take its digital archive online, “a rather glorious thing that goes back to 1785”.
Spackman said she didn’t want to “play the traffic tart game”, but Times Online is investing heavily in search optimisation and link harvesting. For the record, a popular story could get “250,000 to 500,000 page views quite easily” from Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and “something like 500,000” from The Drudge Report. Search editors hired last year “have really become the hub of our entire digital operation” and search-centricity has been “woven through the fabric of our journalism”, through training courses for writers in appropriate headlines, metadata and links. And she said Google’s new off-site news site search feature was not a threat.