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Netscape CEO Barksdale Urges Newspapers to Join Parade to the Web

May 1, 1996 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ The leader of the company driving technical development of the Internet’s World Wide Web urged newspapers publishers and editors Tuesday to learn about the public data network and adapt their businesses to it.

Jim Barksdale, chief executive of Netscape Communications Corp., told attendees at the Newspaper Association of America convention the data network would provide new ways to reach customers and help advertisers.

He tempered his remarks for an audience that is widely, though perhaps unfairly, viewed as several steps behind new technology.

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The Internet is at heart just another tool that can help businesses solve the constant challenges of time, space and form in delivering a product to customers, Barksdale said.

He acknowledged that it is enveloped in hyperbole and that a person could ``pick a number″ to describe Internet usage and growth.

Nonetheless, Barksdale repeated the adage that one way to be a leader was to find a parade and jump in front of it.

``Folks, this is what a parade looks like,″ he said, pointing to a slide showing an estimate of Internet growth. ``It’s going to happen with or without you.″

Dozens of newspapers have started publishing news on the Web. Many simply provide the contents of their daily print product on the network. But some go further, holding electronic discussions on important issues in the news or creating and managing the Web sites of their advertisers.

During a panel discussion after Barksdale’s speech, several experts said the brand recognition that newspapers possess will serve them well in cyberspace.

Jack Fuller, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, said newspapers cannot rely on that reputation alone but must identify and provide special services that are useful to people who log in. His newspaper has developed new career and job assistance services online, he noted.

Another panelist said the newspaper industry needs to participate in a growing debate about online advertising fees. The typical newspaper ad pricing model, based on how many thousands of people may see a paper, won’t work, said Mark Kvamme, chief executive of CKS Group, a San Francisco-based advertising agency widely viewed as a leader in the evolving medium.

Instead, many advertisers will only want to pay when a person jumps to their Web site from a newspaper, magazine or other electronic publication. The idea has become known as ``click-through″ pricing scheme and has drawn protests from some publishers.

But Kvamme said, ``This whole click-through model is going to become very important.″

He also cautioned publishers that the biggest information competition that the Internet poses to them is not in news but classified advertising, a chief source of revenue for newspapers.