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Old media adjusts to maturing Web

InteractiveCorp.'s Barry Diller and New York Times' Arthur Sulzberger speak about changing media at Web 2.0 Summit.

SAN FRANCISCO--Entertainment on the Web has matured to the point that professional production companies should invest in original programming for the Web, said media mogul Barry Diller at the Web 2.0 Summit.

Diller and New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. were interviewed by conference organizer John Battelle during a panel discussion here on Tuesday evening.

Battelle asked about the growth of online advertising at New York Times properties and at IAC/InterActiveCorp, where Diller is chief executive and chairman.

Diller said that growth of Web advertising is going well, to the point that he believes media companies should do original programming specifically for the Web.

"The time has come when we can put real capital into creating programming of different kinds and lengths that combine text and video," he said. "Now is the moment. You could justify putting capital into it, so we're going to do so."

Sulzberger said that the New York Times online business is growing at a "tremendous rate" and is profitable and added that certain areas of its print business are struggling financially.

He defended the New York Times' decision to charge for premium content, a program started about a year ago, because creating high-quality journalism is expensive.

"At the core of what we offer is journalism and that can't ever change. (It's) the brand promise," Sulzberger said. "What has changed is how we interact with the community."

Both speakers faced questions about user-generated content and how it fits into traditional media companies.

Diller said that "editorship" will not go away and that there will always be a small pool of talent capable of creating content that has broad, mass market appeal, such as narrative, full-length movies.

"Everyone would like to believe that their entrails are of great interest to everybody, but it's just probably not so," he said.

Sulzberger said that the New York Times intends to introduce more forms of user-generated content. However, the company been somewhat slow to do so partly out of concern over attaching its trusted name on material generated by outsiders.

"We are looking at information gathering by amateurs, if you will, that we trust. Because at the end of the day, we're putting our name on that work, and finding the right balance is hard work," he said.