3 newspaper giants buy web news monitor

Updated: Mar 28 2005, 05:30am hrs
Three of the United States biggest newspaper publishers, Gannett Co, Knight-Ridder Inc and the Tribune Co, are joining forces to buy three-fourths of Topix.net, a Web site that monitors more than 10,000 online news sources.

Each publisher will own 25% of the company. Topix.net, based in Palo Alto, Calif., will retain the rest and continue to run the site. The cost of the acquisition was not disclosed.

Topix.net is a news aggregator, continuously monitoring updates on thousands of news media Web sites as well as government sites and organizing links to articles in more than 300,000 subject areas. Topix.net already keeps track of news from sites operated by Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Tribune, but the acquisition will allow it to approach the newspapers online advertisers about using its technology for customising ads. It will also let Topix.net add material like television listings.

Rich Skrenta, chief executive and a co-founder of Topix.net, said that in exchange, the newspapers Web sites would get more fine-tuned technology and a better way to show their readers the ads that they actually want to see.

They get powerful contextual advertising technology, and we make their ads more profitable, Skrenta said, referring to what he said was Topix.nets ability to place relevant ads next to articles.

KATHARINE Q SEELYE / NY TIMES