Peter Kafka

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Secret Newspaper Cabal Agenda (Sort Of) Revealed!

smokeSo what exactly were the 24 newspaper publishers who gathered in suburban Chicago yesterday talking about? We don’t know, because the meeting was held off the record and participants like the New York Times (NYT), Gannett (GCI) and Hearst aren’t talking about it. Except we do know, sort of.

We know that, in general, the papers have been talking about ways to make more money from their products, including subscriptions and microtransactions, and have been talking about this for months. And we know, via the Atlantic’s James Warren, that the subject of yesterday’s meeting was “Models to Monetize Content” and that the agenda included sessions titled “Journalism Online: Presentation on proposed service to charge for access to newspaper content and to license that content that (sic) online aggregators” and “Fair Syndication Consortium/Attributor.”

That first session sounds pretty straightforward. What’s that second one about? I asked the PR firm that reps Attributor, the content-tracking service referred to in the session’s title, and it declined comment. But it did refer me to the Web page for the Fair Syndication Consortium, which it turns out is the name for the Attributor-led program that wants to get the likes of Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO) to share some of the ad revenue they make when they sell ads against copyrighted content.

You can read more about that in this Wall Street Journal story published in April. See? Not so mysterious, after all.