Newspapers now sleeping with ‘the enemy’

I’ve heard it said that you put your money where your heart is, so now that newspapers are beginning to partner up with Google and Yahoo, its apparent to me that they’re getting online heart transplants. Or something like that.

Anyway, the last in a series of “Are Newspapers Dying” stories (registration required to read the rest of the series) details the new partnerships between Google and Yahoo and newspapers — not long after newspapers groused that these very sites and other news aggregators were the enemy.

Newspaper publishers have been working with digital media since the Clinton administration, but their efforts often bore the conflict one sees at car companies trying to get past petroleum. The old ways worked so well for so long; the new ways are difficult to master.

Today, newspapers that don’t figure it out will fail. They are sinking incredibly, faster and faster. The first half saw ad revenue drop 7.1% at local papers, 9.5% at national papers and 11% at Spanish-language papers, according to estimates from TNS Media Intelligence. That makes the declines of 2007 look like boom times, as local papers only gave up 5.7% in the first half, nationals lost 6.4% and Spanish-language slipped 4.4%.

Again — about time this started happening. I mean, can you imagine if newspaper executives had had some foresight and joined together to buy Craigslist, back when it was a secret shared by the techie and in-the-know crowd? They wouldn’t need to approach Google and Yahoo now, hats in hand, asking if they can have some more, please, of all that growing online revenue.

Here’s one sign that promising partnerships are gelling: All 780 daily newspapers participating in Google’s Print Ads program, which lets advertisers bid on print space, renewed their contracts with Google earlier this year. “Not only did they all re-up, we’ve actually been adding inventory since,” said Spencer Spinnell, director of Google Print Ads. New papers are coming in, including Spanish-language, alternative weeklies and 70 college papers. “We’re starting with business and trade publications as well,” he added. “So the network is very healthy.”

Ugh. I hate to kick anyone while they’re down — especially people in news, a group that occupies a special place in my heart — but geez. Have some curiosity about the world and see where the world is headed.

In other news-related news, Slate’s Big Money does a profile of Investor’s Business Daily. I’m mainly a fan of IBD because they hired Michael Ramirez, who I think is a genius with drawing pencils (or pens). But the hyper focus and purpose of the newspaper seems to be an odd success, considering all the branching out into citizen journalism, forums, comments, user-generated content and other stuff that other media is so hyped about now.