Journalism Online sold to Chicago printer

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2011 (AFP) - Journalism Online, a company started two years ago to help newspapers and magazines collect revenue from online readers, was sold on Thursday to Chicago-based printing firm RR Donnelley.

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Journalism Online was launched in April 2009 by three veteran US media executives with the goal of helping news organizations make money on the Internet.

The company developed a payment platform called "Press+" that would allow newspapers or magazines to charge online readers using a universal Journalism Online account.

RR Donnelley president and chief executive Thomas Quinlan said Press+ "provides a valuable tool for monetizing content."

"Press+ enhances our offering and opens new avenues for publishers to generate incremental subscription and advertising revenue," Quinlan said in a statement.

Journalism Online co-founder Steve Brill said "we are delighted to bring Press+'s innovative capabilities to RR Donnelley and look forward to engaging with the broad array of consumer and b-to-b publishers with whom RR Donnelley has relationships."

US newspapers, faced with declining print advertising revenue and falling circulation, have been looking for ways to make money online but Press+ never gained widespread adoption.

The Press+ platform was being tested by a number of small newspapers around the United States at the time of the sale.

The New York Times last week announced that it would begin charging online readers for full access to NYTimes.com using a system developed in house.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. invested in Journalism Online last year and the paidContent website reported that it had sold its unspecified stake in the company to RR Donnelley.

Jon Housman, president of digital journalism initiatives for News Corp., told paidContent the investment had "appreciated considerably" but did not provide any details.

Murdoch's Wall Street Journal, The Times and The Sunday Times already charge online readers and the media tycoon has announced plans to eventually make readers pay for online access to all of the newspapers in his stable.