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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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June 23, 2008 2:32 PM

Weekly newspapers look for new revenue in big campaign year

Posted by David Postman

The state’s weekly newspapers have a new plan for making money from politics. The Washington Newspaper Publisher’s Association, which represents weekly and community papers, is building a Web site to compile state political news in the hope of selling politicians their names. WNPA President Bill Marcum said in this month’s newsletter put out by his group and Allied Daily Newspapers, representing the dailies:

We can also sell hot links to candidate, party and consumer Web sites. What does this mean? We would sell Dino Rossi his name every time it appears on the site. The name would be in light blue, hot linked to his Web site. WNPA would get paid (say $3) every time a reader clicked on this link and went to Rossi’s site.

An e-mail pitch to candidates explained it this way:

As you can see, each time your name is mentioned it will be hyperlinked and you can choose the website that the user is taken to, your campaign or donation page would be a prime spot. It is free to set up an account and only requires a $25 to begin receiving traffic. Click costs start at only $0.05/click and you can see exactly what each site is charging before you spend any money. Register today and let Washington voters find out who you are, what you stand for and create a name for yourself in the upcoming election.

There is a site under construction that is, at this writing at least, publicly available and obviously a work in progress. Other money-making ideas for the site are to sell display ads and host campaign videos.

Candidates could put their TV commercial on the site and would pay for the space and each time the video is viewed.

The site is being managed by an intern for now. WNPA General Manager Bill Will told me that when the site goes live in a few weeks it will include work from the weekly papers, but that the dailies, through Allied, will be welcome to join the effort. He says by e-mail:

The crux of the effort is to let users browse some headlines (or the RSS feeds of the papers that offer them) and nudge them back to the originating site if they want the whole story. We think that's a good way to fight back against bloggers who are playing fast and loose with copyright by lifting whole stories and slapping them in their blogs.

Marcum says in his article the aggregator site is one way for newspapers to fight declining revenues.

We as an industry need to work together to compete in the political arena, and over the past 20 years we have failed miserably in the political revenue category. Here is a chance to reverse the trend, using a medium that politicians want and need to get their messages to the public. They will find a way to do it with us or without us … why not make it with us, so we will make a few bucks along the way?

RELATED: Papers Facing Worst Year for Ad Revenue

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