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Newsweek ready for the Web

After lingering in AOL's proprietary service, Newsweek is finally ready to stake its claim on the Web.

After spending a considerable period hiding behind the firewall of America Online's proprietary service, Newsweek is finally ready to stake its claim on the Web.

The weekly periodical's new Web site, Newsweek.com, will team up with its parent company, the Washington Post, and also the Encyclopedia Britannica's Web navigation guide E-Blast.

The site will include up-to-the minute news feeds from the Post, daily shorts, and full weekly features from Newsweek editions. The site will also feature stock quotes and eventually support an e-commerce center, though it has not been determined what kinds of products it will sell.

Newsweek's foray onto the Internet comes much later than efforts by other print publications--most notably archrival Time Magazine, which has been on the Web for years.

Newsweek was considered something of a pioneer as one of the first magazines to venture online through a closed, proprietary networks like AOL. But it is considered quite late to make the next natural step: moving onto the Web.

However, delaying Newsweek's entrance onto the Web was a conscious effort, according to Michael Rogers, editor and general manager of Newsweek.com. The company gained an understanding of electronic publishing through its partnerships with AOL and Prodigy, and through its CD-ROM efforts.

"Two years ago, the Web didn't look like an attractive business model," said Rogers. "It's not about who got there first, it's who really understood the medium."

Rogers aims to turn Newsweek into what he called a "destination news site," where users can access breaking news and features while being provided a navigation tool supplied by E-Blast. The site will also host a Web search engine powered by AltaVista.

The weekly magazine's Internet efforts will not be subject to what Rogers calls the "business model of the moment." Rather, Rogers hopes to chart a new path for the service in a still-nascent medium.

"If the colonization of the Web is a three-act play, we're still at the place where the audience is stuck in traffic and still being seated," said Rogers.