Newspapers Mull Over Yahoo/HotJobs Tie

Tribune, Knight Ridder and Gannett’s success with CareerBuilder has lead to other newspaper companies wanting in on the national recruitment action. As Paid Content reports, CareerBuilder “had a great second quarter with network and affiliate revenues up 42 percent over last year” and in some respects, is beginning to run away from Monster.

A number of newspaper companies, including Hearst and Media News Group, have been meeting to discuss their best approach vis a vis recruitment, but also in other areas. Theoretically, options could include buying into CareerBuilder as junior partners, or to try to buy an independent career site such as Adicio. A third option was to team up with Yahoo!, where HotJobs has been an underachiever.

Many of the newspapers in the meeting have been down the joint development path before (i.e. CareerPath, CareerSite), and the prospect of being a junior partner to Tribune, Gannett (and possibly McClatchy) lacks appeal. There is some hatred between the companies, who have felt disrespected by TKG execs. But there is also envy. If they were invited into the CareerBuilder consortia, they would probably jump for it.

All this makes the possibility of a Yahoo! tie the most scintillating. Moreover, former Knight Ridder executive Dan Finnigan is GM of HotJobs, and would theoretically be sensitive to their needs.

Of course, the Yahoo! option would represent a broad alliance, and would create a permanent “in” for Yahoo Local. But that might just be facing reality.

Jon Fine of Business Week independently got wind of the newspaper discussions, and does a great job poring over the angles. Following are excerpts from his piece.

“Newspaper companies would build a network within what is one of the Web’s top destinations and win a crucial concession in today’s search-engine economy: getting a cut of the ads sold around search results of their content. It’s a sore spot for publishers that this doesn’t happen now.

“Help-wanted is the quick cash,” says one executive involved in the discussions, “but news search is the long-term future.” At least one newspaper executive involved in the discussions says he nurses hopes that Web surfers eventually will pay small fees — micropayments, in Web parlance — for some newspaper content. And there’s a push to get the newspapers an equity stake in the venture.

But another newspaper executive who is familiar with the negotiations says the focus is on more immediate concerns. “In a more search-centric world, how do you guarantee better distribution?” he asks. “That’s what a number of these talks are about.”