Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - A Mixed Blessing - A Mixed Blessing

Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Tribune newspaper companies have purchased minority interests in Topix, a Google competitor for news aggregation. The trend continues; old line news media are buying into internet media. The old line firms resisted this move for as long as they could. Many hoped to build their existing papers into online juggernauts. Google, Topix and others are showing that the way to get eye-balls on pages is to use the online services as gateways.

Knight-Ridder in particular has been working at becoming an online news purveyor. Google has become powerful enough that alliances are being made to slow the growth. In the meantime, Google keeps adding to its levels of service. Individual users can now customize their news page. This is an old idea but previous versions were cumbersome. The Google set up is easy and of course free.

To reach the link to the article, you may need a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I subscribe to a few magazines and a couple of newspapers online. Barron's and the WSJ still carry a lot of weight for me. I read a few business magazines to know what is "hot".

More and more news and info will be transmitted over the web. Investors should keep this in mind. Knight-Ridder, Gannett and the Tribune will be around for years to come. They may be able to slow the growth of this one Google service. Yahoo announced more "sticky" services today. Yahoo paid dearly for its new photo service program but this is the type of thing that keeps customers with Yahoo. Google has many similar "sticky" services. If you tend to search through Google, then you will tend to use many of the "free" Google services.

The willingness of Topix to sell is an indication that Google has been eating Topix's lunch. Having the support of three large newspapers will certainly help Topix. It still seems to me that Google will continue to grow the fastest of all firms mentioned.