While one of its founders is scaling back, New Century Network is forging ahead with a search for a new editor for its NewsWorks site and the launch of Home Page, an area dedicated to local sports coverage. The 2-year-old NCN, designed to help get local newspapers a national online audience and ads, has financing from major newspaper publishers, including Gannett, Knight-Ridder, The Tribune Co., Times Mirror and The New York Times Co.
The Times now intends to put more effort into its own online ventures, mainly its Times Web site and its area on AOL. "We have funding from nine different companies, and the Times said they wanted to have a little bit lower percentage of ownership," said Tom Bates, senior vice president of advertising at New Century Network.
The Times, said a source close to NCN, "never really wanted to be part of [NCN] because they wanted to be national." NCN sells online advertising for its 130 affiliates, including the newspapers owned by the nine publishers and other papers represented on NewsWorks. "With all this stuff about local [online content], your local newspaper stands for something," observed Greg Smith, director of strategic services at Darwin Digital, New York.
NCN has attracted ads from Intel, Barnes & Noble and CDNow. Its biggest sponsor, IBM, signed on exclusively for Home Page. The college sports news area will be syndicated in the form of banners to participating local newspaper sites. To build awareness, a consumer ad campaign is planned for the fall, from US Interactive.
Meanwhile, a search is on for a successor to NewsWorks editor John Papanek, who departed to run Disney's new ESPN Magazine. "I'm leaving with a lot of mixed feelings about it," said Papanek. --LR