Newspapers, HotJobs and Yahoo!

ClickZ’s Kate Kaye reports on news coming out of the Deutsche Bank Media and Telecommunications Conference in New York about more progress and developments for the Yahoo!-newspaper consortium:

Yahoo has signed 17 paper publishers, and plans on training thousands of newspaper reps this year on its HotJobs system. In addition, key publisher partner Hearst Newspapers plans to build a sales center in Houston to push Yahoo’s HotJobs products.

Instead of simply taking calls from potential HotJobs customers as they trickle in, Hearst is making a concerted effort to promote the service to advertisers, said Lincoln Millstein, SVP digital media for Hearst Newspapers. “We haven’t even begun to sell HotJobs,” he said, adding, “We’re building an outbound center in Houston. We’re hiring up to 30 outbound salespeople in Houston alone just to prosecute the HotJobs online-only sales.”

Hearst was among the original handful of large newspaper publishers, commonly dubbed “The Seven Amigos,” which agreed to integrate Yahoo’s HotJobs recruitment classifieds across their more than 150 newspaper sites, and distribute their own job ads in the HotJobs database. The other six founding partners that joined in November 2006 were Belo, Cox Enterprises, E. W. Scripps, the Journal Register Company, Lee Enterprises and MediaNews Group.

According to Yahoo, more recent members of its expanding newspaper network are Herald Media, GateHouse Media, Calkins Media, The McClatchy Company, Media General, Morris Communications, Paddock Publications, Paxton Media Group, Times Shamrock Communications and Tribune Review Publishing Co.

There’s a much bigger opportunity here than simply jobs or even classifieds generally. For example, newspaper partners could take advantage of some or all of Yahoo!’s APIs and social media capabilities to offer shopping, maps mashups, community tools and more on their sites. They could also use Yahoo! Local Search and yellow pages on their sites.

And, as Yahoo! has said, it could leverage the local sales channels to acquire and serve more small business advertisers with websites, hosting and online marketing. But one has to get from here to there.

Given some of the distractions and challenges that seem to be shadowing Yahoo! these days I’m not sure the companies are on course to take advantage of all the possibilities. And as difficult as it may be with scores of newspapers to deal with and the accompanying bureaucracy, I’d like to see a much more aggressive rollout of the full range of Yahoo! products and functionality on the newspaper sites.

Even as Yahoo! may be bidding for a social network and trying to figure out how to leverage its RightMedia asset, its less sexy but potentially biggest opportunity may be with the newspapers.

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Related: Not long after the SF Chronicle’s 25% newsroom cuts were announced Media News’ San Jose Mercury plans similar staff reductions (via MediaPost).

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