Newspapers Herd Together for Protection

    February 15, 2008

Have you ever watched a herd of buffalo or deer?

Ever seen hundreds of small fish school together and move in one fluid movement?

As you may already know, they do that in order to protect themselves from a single large predator. It often works, as the predator will mistakenly believe the prey is too large to consume, or get’s blocked out by a massive wall of bodies.

There’s a new herd on the traditional media landscape.

Four large newspaper companies–The Tribune Company, Gannett Company, Hearst Corporation, and The New York Times Company–have decided there’s safety in numbers and so have joined forces. Between them they’re creating quadrantONE and each will allocate a portion of its online advertising space to the new company.

As the NYT reports:

The purpose of the joint venture, which will be based in Chicago and will hire 17 people, is to let national advertisers place ads on local Web sites with a single phone call. The sites belong to papers like The Los Angeles Times (which is a Tribune property), The Des Moines Register (Gannett), The Houston Chronicle (Hearst) and The Boston Globe (The New York Times Company).

Some of the companies’ flagship sites, however, will not be included, because they are not considered local. These include the sites of USA Today, a Gannett paper, and of The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, which are owned by the Times Company.

As you can guess, the herd hopes to protect itself from predators such as Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo–who are constantly attacking the local markets the newspapers operate in.

Will it work? Will the herd offer protection? Or will Google still pick-off the weaker member’s target advertiser?