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Midwest press associations anti-up $30K

to eye for-profit collaborative to monetize Internet content

NEW: Plans for formation of ANDAC; . . . and a . . . June 23-25 "congress" planned

(Wrapup for this page by Bill Densmore)

Three Midwest newspaper associations -- Kansas, Missouri and Iowa -- met Nov. 20 and formed a coordinated effort to manage monetization of their content on the web, raising in minutes an initial $30,000 to start planning. They've asked a retiring executive of the Iowa Press Association, Bill Monroe, to look into the idea. A key part of the idea is a for-profit corporation, owned by the nation's newspapers, to coordinate the effort.

Original oganizers of the task force were Doug Anstaett, executive director of the Kansas Press Association; Bill Monroe, deputy executive director of the Iowa Newspaper Association; and Doug Crews, executive director of the Missouri Press Association.

"When we set up the three-state task force, we knew it couldn't be pulled off alone," Monroe says. "It has to be as transparent as we can, every step of the way . . . we're walking into this with our eyes open. It's not going to be easy . . . we don't know if we're going to succeed or not, but we cannot not try."

At Friday's meeting, says Monroe, publishers present pledged "about $30,000 in 90 seconds" to help the project get through the next phase -- talking to key media people nationwide and creating an inventory of all possible approaches to how to get paid for online content.

Also attending a meeting of 35 people at the Kansas City Star to talk about the idea were representatives from press associations in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Inland Press Association. The three organizing state associations have formed a 10-member task force to begin looking at the question, according to both Doug Crews and Bill Monroe. At Friday's meeting, Monroe was put in charge of coordinating the initial efforts.

"For several months, a Multi-State Digital Task Force made up of publishers from Missouri, Kansas and Iowa have been discussing this idea," Crews wrote in an email. "The Nov. 20 Task Force meeting was a facilitated discussion where other newspaper organizations were invited to attend, observe and weigh in with their thoughts. The task force wants folks who are interested to get to the table."

Those attending from Iowa included INA President Amy Duncan, Indianola Record-Herald and Tribune; Iowa Newspaper Foundation President Jo Martin, Iowa Falls Times-Citizen; INA Executive Director Chris Mudge and Deputy Executive Director Bill Monroe.

Those attending from Missouri, Crews said, included (with affiliations): Mark Maassen, The Kansas City Star; Brad Gentry, Houston Herald; Andy Waters, Columbia Daily Tribune; Jack Whitaker, Hannibal Courier-Post, representing GateHouse Media; Richard Gard, St. Louis Daily Record, representing American Court and Commercial Newspapers; Brad Buchanan, Scott Buchanan and Ian Buchanan, GeoTel, Columbia; Brian Steffens, National Newspaper Association, Columbia; and Doug Crews, Missouri Press Association, Columbia. Maassen, Gentry and Waters are Task Force members, representing MPA.

Those representing the Kansas Press Association on the task force include Tom Throne, KPA president from the Junction City Daily Union; Linda Mowery-Denning, editor and publisher of the Ellsworth County Independent/Reporter and president-elect of KPA; Patrick Lowry, editor and publisher of the Hays Daily News, and Doug Anstaett, executive director of KPA. Another Kansas attendee was Ralph Gage, representing the World Company in Lawrence.

Anstaett said the task force seeks ideas and input from vendors. "We are looking for the silver bullet first," says Anstaett. "But it may not be out there. I don't think we've heard the perfect solution yet."

Monroe said the task force would welcome help from researchers such as the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.

  • LINK: Contacts, and more background on the goals, objectives and form of the proposed initiative