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Craigslist Plans To Make News

The San Francisco Web entrepreneur who's shaken the classified ad business with his Craigslist site has plans to expand into journalism, too. Speaking at an Oxford University business school forum, Craig Newmark said his news project will be introduced within three months.

He made it clear his new Web site will have a bottom-up approach to news stories and presentation, with readers play the role of editors.

"Things do need to change," he told the audience in Oxford, England, The Guardian reported. "The big issue in the U.S. is that newspapers are afraid to talk truth to power. The White House press corps don't speak the truth ... they are frightened to lose access they don't have anyway."

Newmark said his news project will involve Web technology to let readers decide which news stories are the most important. At least one Web site is already working this field. Digg.com invites readers to submit stories to be posted on its Web site. "Once a story receives enough (votes) from (the site's visitors) it will be promoted to the front page," the site explains.

Holidays push up keyword prices

The cost of keywords related to entertaining at home rose in the first half of November, according to an analysis by Semphonic, a firm which helps companies with online marketing. The cost of buying keywords for search engine advertising rose 8% for kitchen, food and wine-related terms. Prices for apparel and accessory keywords rose by 10%. "These increases are only evident, however, in low-volume keywords and suggests that advertisers in these categories are expanding and diversifying their campaigns," the company said in a statement. "Comparing data from Nov. 15 and Nov. 1, we see a small rise in both top bids and average cost per click," Semphonic added. The average cost per click of a generic keyword rose to about $1, while a "branded term" like iPod rose to 53 cents.

Houston paper drops registration

The Houston Chronicle has stopped requiring visitors to provide demographic information in order to read news stories. "Our goal is to be an open site," said Stephen Weis, vice president, general manager of Chron.com, according to MediaPost. "We feel that our growth will be from people using our site as often as they might use a search engine." Analysts said that with demand for online advertising growing, it makes sense for the Chronicle to make its pages available to as many readers, and marketers, as possible. Weis said dropping registration came in response, "to passionate pleas from readers."

Last week, the Hearst Corp.-owned newspaper also signed with FeedBurner to provide RSS feeds of Chronicle stories. "We recognized the power of this new delivery channel early on and realized we were uniquely positioned to not only provide subscribers with timely news delivered the way they want it, but also explore ways to extend our reach beyond traditional media," Weis added, in a statement.