Alliance Formed to Deliver Newspaper Info Over Prodigy Computer Network
ATLANTA (AP) _ In the latest marriage of print and electronic media, Cox Newspapers and Prodigy Services Co. are launching an alliance to deliver newspaper information over the widely used Prodigy computer network.
In a joint announcement Wednesday, Cox said it plans to develop the service immediately at its newspapers in Atlanta and West Palm Beach, Fla. The Atlanta-based company will work with Prodigy to market the network to other newspapers.
″We intend to become the standard electronic link between the readers and publishers of major newspapers nationwide. We’re ready to talk to all publishers and we’re prepared to move quickly,″ said Prodigy President Ross Glatzer.
The deal reflects the increasingly blurred line between newspapers and electronic information outlets. Several alliances between newspapers, telephone companies and computer companies have been announced recently or are being discussed.
The San Jose Mercury News inaugurated in May an online news service, delivered to subscribers via a computer modem. The service, a joint venture with the computer network America Online, includes news from each morning’s edition of the paper as well as updates from the afternoon edition.
Atlanta-based Cox, publishers of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and 15 other newspapers, last month announced a venture with BellSouth Corp. to deliver classified advertising and Yellow Pages information over the telephone.
The deal with White Plains, N.Y.-based Prodigy will include community bulletin boards, databases of material originally published in print, expanded analyses and background information on current news articles, restaurant reviews and directories of community services.
The Cox-Prodigy consortium will develop a product that local publishers can use to create interactive services. Prodigy will provide the national computer network through which information can be exchanged between newspapers and readers.
Prodigy, a joint venture of IBM and Sears that has two million members, currently delivers its services through phone lines. It is planning to deliver some services through cable television systems to television sets as well as personal computers.
David Easterly, Cox Newspapers president, said the network would allow customers to get more news than is now available in the newspapers.
″We can print only about 10 percent of the information we have available on an average day,″ he said. ″The cost of newsprint is the limiting factor. Computer storage is relatively cheap and will enable us to greatly expand the information we can provide.″
For instance, he said, an article in the paper about a political campaign could direct readers to computer-archived candidate speeches, biographies and anthologies of columns.
The newspapers also could ″get back in the business of reporting really local information like police reports, fire calls, civic club meetings, house sales, Little League scores and the like,″ said Journal-Constitution publisher Dennis Berry.