Nation’s Newspaper Execs Discuss Internet Options

(NEWSMAX)   About two dozen newspaper industry executives huddled Thursday to explore how they might be able to boost profits from their online operations as revenue from their print editions collapses.

The meeting at a Chicago hotel is the latest indication that many newspapers intend to become more aggressive about protecting their Internet content and, in some cases, charging Web surfers to read the material.

By changing the way they do business online, newspaper publishers are hoping they can stop the financial hemorrhaging that already has resulted in massive layoffs, huge losses and at least seven filings for bankruptcy protection since December.

Thursday’s meeting was called “Models to Lawfully Monetize Content,” according to an agenda obtained by The Associated Press. James Warren, a former managing editor for the Chicago Tribune, reported about the meeting earlier on The Atlantic’s Web site.

The meeting was held “to discuss how best to support and preserve the traditions of newsgathering that will serve the American public,” according to the Newspaper Association of America, the trade group that organized the gathering. An antitrust lawyer attended the meeting to caution the participants about laws prohibiting collusion or other anticompetitive measures.

The session included presentations by Attributor Inc., a Silicon Valley company that specializes in identifying online copyright violations, and Journalism Online, a startup that hopes to collect Internet fees on behalf of participating newspapers.

Other topics included a possible industrywide solution to classified advertising.

Newspapers’ print editions have been particularly hard hit by the loss of $7 billion, or 40 percent, of their annual classified advertising revenue since 2006, with most of it shifting to free or less expensive options on the Internet.

Overall, the U.S. newspaper industry’s annual sales from print advertising have plunged by nearly $12 billion, or 25 percent, since 2006. Annual revenue from ads on newspaper Web sites has climbed $445 million in that time _ not nearly enough to make up for the losses on the print side.

Executives from most of the major U.S. newspaper publishers attended Thursday’s meeting, according to the Newspaper Association of America. Tom Curley, chief executive of The Associated Press, also was on hand. The AP is a news cooperative owned by newspapers.

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