AAN paper agrees to share content with mainstream media Web site
Philadelphia City Paper today entered into an agreement with KnightRidder.com that will connect the alternative weekly to Philly.com, a Web site that features content from both of Philadelphia’s metro dailies and a local television station.
City Paper will provide about five entertainment stories to Philly.com every week in exchange for its own “splash” page that lists the first few paragraphs of each article, said Publisher Paul Curci. City Paper’s logo will be displayed alongside those of the News Channel 6 and Knight Ridder’s own Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.
“Philly.com is a regional portal,” Curci said. “We will be featured as the exclusive alternative newsweekly. In a sense, we will be a content provider.”
This isn’t the first time KnightRidder.com has partnered with an AAN paper. New Times Inc. signed a similar deal in April to provide content to Knight Ridder’s Real Cities Network, which encompasses 30 regional sites in addition to Philly.com. New Times will share content from six of its twelve papers on the Real Cities Web sites in San Francisco, Miami, Cleveland, Dallas, Kansas City and St. Louis.
New Times Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Scott Spear said he expects to have his papers posting content to the Real Cities Web sites within the next two weeks.
Not surprisingly, Philadelphia City Paper’s newly formed “alliance” with a media giant has generated some heat in the newsroom. The paper’s own media critic, Frank Lewis, raised concerns about the pending deal in a recent column, noting the potential conflict with City Paper’s role as local media watchdog. Likewise, News Editor Howard Altman is concerned about diluting his paper’s identity.
“This great co-mingling of media, I don’t like it at all,” Altman said. “I think what happens is that you lose a sense of independence. … People don’t know where their news is coming from.”
Altman and Curci agreed that City Paper’s content would not be affected by the agreement.
“Our integrity is in such good shape that I’m not overly concerned that the perception will be that we are selling out to mainstream media.” Curci said. “We will continue to be an alternative to the Inquirer, to mainstream media.”
Curci said he expects to generate “a large amount” of revenue from advertising on the “splash” page.
In addition he noted that Real Cities readers will need to click-through to City Paper’s Web site to read an entire story because Philly.com will only display the first few paragraphs. Curci hopes to double the number of unique visitors — currently at a quarter million each month — City Paper’s Web site receives. Philly.com receives about 2 million visitors each month, he said.