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Newspaper Heavyweights Invest in Topix

Newspaper publishing powerhouses Gannett, Knight Ridder, and Tribune Company today announced they have jointly acquired a 75 percent interest in Topix.net, an online news aggregator that launched a little more than a year ago.

Although financial terms were not disclosed, the three publishing giants each took a 25 percent stake in the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, while its founders retained 25 percent control, Rich Skrenta, Topix.net CEO and co-founder, said.

Topix.net monitors and aggregates breaking news from more than 10,000 online sources and categorizes the news into more than 300,000 topics, Skrenta said. The Web site also features links to news and information, culled from newspapers, magazines, radio, television stations and weblogs. The information is tailored to individual users organized by ZIP code, industry and hundreds of thousands of topics. The information is then distributed through its Web site, RSS feeds and e-mail news alerts.

"People want the news that's relevant to them -- where they live, the business that they are in, the topics they care about," Jack Williams, senior vice president of diversified business and development at Gannett, said in a statement. "Topix.net's technology will leverage the media assets and broad reach of our three companies in entirely new ways."

Topix.net will continue to operate as an editorially independent, stand-alone company managed by Topix.nets executive team, and operated by its eight employees, said Skrenta.

"We are going to continue to operate like a start-up," he said, adding that Topix.net will use content and funding from the three publishers to expand and refine its technology, services and operational infrastructure.

Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune collectively operate more than 140 newspaper Web sites with nearly 30 million unique visitors monthly. Recently they have partnered in other joint ventures such as ShopLocal.com and CareerBuilder.com.

"This transaction provides us with the resources to be the best place to connect to a very wide range of news on the Web," Skrenta said. "Gannett, Knight Ridder and Tribune generate valuable online content and Topix.net is dedicated to making that content easily found. We all serve the news enthusiast, so it's a natural partnership."