Sunday, February 19, 2006

Yahoo says "no thanks" to local news

Newspapers shouldn't celebrate the news that Yahoo doesn't want to compete with their newsgathering service. They should treat it as a warning.

As the Local Onliner reported the other day, Yahoo News boss Neil Budde told the Software Information Industry Association that he's happy to rely on local providers for local news:

"We’re not getting into the local news business," said Budde. ... "[O]riginal content will be a small part of what we do." Mostly, Yahoo just wants to be a "remixer," like a dance club DJ, he said.
Unfortunately, the local newspaper business is not the dance music business. As I've argued, merely reporting the news doesn't make money. Financially speaking, the crucial service newspapers provide today is connecting advertisers with the proper audiences. Yahoo would love to take that job itself by becoming the portal through which everyone encounters news.

Big profits for Yahoo. Long, slow decline for newspapers.

The better solution is for local papers to devote themselves to remaining the premier portals for information on their local area. They've done this in print for years. Now they just need to do it online. And, as Yahoo knows, news content alone won't be enough.

(By the way: I know blaming a missed update on a PC malfunction is so 1.0, but that is indeed the reason I was absent last weekend. As a result, I'll be playing catch-up with extra posts over the next few days.)

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