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Newspapers going online: a few challenge for old media

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Phase two of the Internet revolution has started in earnest. While phase one was largely dominated by once-fashionable dot-com's, phase two promises to bring out the best among incumbents. Indeed, the start of the new millennium is witnessing the resurgence of the incumbent organization - an organization that is recharged and revitalized by the innovative power of the Internet and digital technologies. A battle has begun in earnest for the mantle of leadership in the emerging Internet economy. Newspaper companies, in particular, have faced special challenges in leveraging the Internet. On the surface, the Internet provides the perfect media for newspaper firms. Their product is information - something that can be easily digitised and distributed via the Internet. Their product - news - is time sensitive and so rapid distribution via the Net is of value to customers. However, newspaper firms are struggling to exploit the potential of the Net. Most are losing money in their online sites and do not have clear ideas about how to turn their Net presence into profitable ventures. Even more worrisome, few firms are aware of the change agenda that lies ahead given the business transformation enabled by the Internet. This report investigates the approach to the Internet chosen by three leading incumbent newspaper firms. The authors studied the Internet strategies of The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Expansion. They study each of these three firms along the following dimensions: (a) Content: the pattern of content put online by the newspaper firms. (b) Channels: the inter-play between the traditional (offline) and newer (online) distribution channels. (c) Brand: the branding strategy associated with the online presence. (d) Target groups: the customers targeted specifically by the online presence and inter-relationships with the traditional customer bases of the firms. (e) Technology: the role of technology in impacting the online offerings. (f) Business model: the revenue model associated with the online presence. (g) Organizational structure: the physical organization of the unit for managing the online presence and its relationship to the rest of the organization.

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