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Salon to syndicate articles

Web sites are beginning to take their content and repurposing it--in old-media venues like newspapers.

With the advent of the Web, newspapers and magazines have been repurposing their content and putting up sites to draw more readers. Now Web sites are turning that around, taking their content and putting it in newspapers.

In another example of the blurring lines separating the different forms of media, Salon Magazine will be syndicating its columns and stories to United Feature Syndicate so it can distribute Salon content to newspapers.

Salon is touting this as a first. And while it's never clear on the Web what is actually a first, Bill Bass, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, says Salon is definitely at the beginning of what promises to be an increasingly popular trend.

"Once you create content, it makes a lot of sense to get it out in as many forms as possible," according to Bass, who covers new media.

For Salon, the benefits are obvious: it gets a fee from every newspaper or magazine in the syndicate that picks up a story. That money will augment the online magazine's venture capital funding and advertising revenues. The payments come at a time when the Internet isn't quite mature enough to deliver big bucks off advertising, Bass said.

Just as importantly, Salon gets to extend its brand to people who have not yet logged on but are likely to do so in the next few years, publisher and president Michael O'Donnell said. "We wanted to create multiple revenue streams and create more awareness for Salon off the Web."

In fact, an important part of the agreement was Salon's insistence that newspapers not only run the full name, but also the magazine's URL.

While Salon is one of the first doing this, it is not the only online company to have developed content strong enough for other media buyers to be interested. Wire services such as Reuters license both on and off the Web.

Only yesterday, America Online (AOL) announced that ABC will develop a half-hour children's show based on content developed by and for AOL.

The concept, Bass said, is the oldest in the book. It's called "cross-promotion," and one need look no further than MSNBC or ESPN SportsZone to see that it can work.