In April 1995, The Hearst Corporation announced that eight of the nation's largest newspaper companies were forming a new company to create a national network of local online newspaper services. The new company, New Century Network, was to be operated as a joint venture by such industry giants as The Hearst Corporation, Advance Publications, Cox Newspapers, Gannett Co., Knight-Ridder, The Times Mirror Co., Tribune Company and The Washington Post Co. for the purpose of supporting local newspapers in their move online.
The network enabled local online newspaper services to provide a full offering of local goods and services, including news, features, sports information, ticket and home shopping services and guides to their local community. It also included communication tools such as e-mail, bulletin boards and real-time chat capabilities.
Frank A. Bennack, Jr., Hearst President and Chief Executive Officer explained the significance of such a partnership by saying, "Newspapers have long been the primary providers of reliable, high-quality news and information within our communities. Today's announcement quite logically extends our leadership to help local newspapers provide a full range of interactive information and services."
This type of partnership can only be taken to mean that the newspaper industry, headed by the New Century Network, is finally making its push to the future and the online world. The combined experience and success of these companies shows its seriousness in moving forward and succeeding in its creation of a new type of newspaper.
A few months later, in June of 1995, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA) announced a plan to the representatives at NEXPO 95, the world's largest annual newspaper exposition and conference, to adopt a four-lane "Infobahn" strategy in approaching newspaper's electronic future.
This Infobahn model consists of four lanes that newspapers must travel in order to be successful in the electronic future, with lane one being ink on paper, lane two basic audio text services, lane three enhanced audio text services and lane four online services. NAA chairman Uzal Martz, Jr. said that newspapers must "take the opportunity technology has offered or end up in a competitive recycling center."
It is no coincidence that The Hearst Corporation and the NAA announcement came at roughly the same time. In a time of tremendous growth in Internet services it is obvious the newspaper industry is gathering steam to really put forth a complete commitment to the online world.