Friday, November 21, 2008

Should Newspapers Become Online Ad Brokers for Local Businesses?

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that's where the newspaper business is right now. With profits slashed, unending layoffs, and online ad growth slowing, newspapers have to be open to new ideas that will help them deal with a media shift like no other. Last week I looked at the concept of crowdfunding, with people paying journalists directly for stories. This week, I heard another out-of-the-box idea: having newspapers help local businesses buy key words for Google AdWords or place Facebook ads -- acting as a local ad agency.

That idea came from Stephen Gray, the managing director of Newspaper Next, a project of the American Press Institute with one goal: to help newspapers come up with a profitable business model. Gray is a former managing publisher of the Christian Science Monitor, and was president of Monroe Publishing Co., which ran his family's newspaper in Monroe, Mich. Since 2005, he has been tasked with helping American newspapers save themselves -- a tall task, to say the least.

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