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News megasite cuts content, staff

New Century Network will focus on advertising, not content, and eliminate more positions at its NewsWorks site.

New Century Network said today that it will focus on advertising, not content, and eliminate positions at its NewsWorks site for the second time in two months.

The company laid off 20 NewsWorks employees today. An unknown number of those laid off will be rehired in other divisions of the company, a New Century spokeswoman said.

NewsWorks originally planned to aggregate and distribute content from media giants such as Cox Newspapers, Gannett, Hearst, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

Under the new strategy, the NewsWorks site will only be a gateway to affiliate newspaper content. The site will offer a search engine and links to affiliate sites but no original content, a spokeswoman said.

NewsWorks' struggles have cast light on the problems that newspapers have faced in bringing their print content to the Web. They have been unsure of how to grab a share of the estimated $17 billion in online classified ads without cannibalizing their existing business. Under the old plan, the NewsWorks sites appeared to be competing with affiliate content for the same readers.

New Century Network said the company will focus on selling advertising to the network of 140 newspaper Web sites that are affiliates.

"Our newspaper affiliates create a vast amount of rich interactive content every day," the company said in a statement. "The network can add the most value by creating marketing solutions for national advertisers built around affiliate content. This was the original mission of NCN, and it makes even more sense today."

New Century said in January that it would be laying off 10 percent of the NewsWorks staff in order to concentrate on its affiliate advertising network and HTML email delivery service of affiliate content.