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Centralization Helps Even Weekly Newspapers

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Major media companies centralize Web operations for the sake of efficiency, but even small independently owned newspapers can benefit from the concept for their Web sites.

When media companies centralize, they develop the ability to sell into multiple properties with one contract, create one design template for all of the sites, implement products for all of them with one initiative and deliver multiple other benefits that save time and money.

Google is a master at the efficiency of centralization. Newspaper companies are OK with it. At first glance, independent newspapers can’t do it at all.

Independent papers need to find a way to share sales, content, marketing and technology resources in order to gain the advantage held by other companies.

One simple way is through partnerships, which have their own benefits and challenges. Another way, which is more out of the box for such a traditional industry, is through a jointly owned company.

But examples do exist. CareerBuilder.com, for example, is jointly owned by Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune. Why can’t a group of independent newspapers accomplish the same thing?

Imagine even a small Web services company of just two people that manages all of the ad serving, content management systems, etc., of three or more independent newspapers.

This staff of two can implement projects more quickly, share best practices among the papers, possibly save some money through volume purchases and achieve other benefits more effectively than one person — or an overworked print employee — can accomplish at one newspaper.

The industry on the print side is getting squeezed down for good. It can rise much further with online. But it will take lean thinking to get there.

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