July 15, 1997 5:40 PM PDT

Motley Fool, Salon syndicated

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Motley Fool had its biggest day of site traffic this weekend. It had nothing to do with the Internet or even computers.

Instead, the Fools, as they like to call themselves, attribute the surge in traffic to that old-fashioned dead-tree-and-ink medium: newspapers. This weekend, the Fools' new syndicated column debuted in several markets, according to Chris Hill, a spokesman for Motley Fool.

The column, syndicated through Universal Press Syndicate, has so far been picked up by 35 papers nationwide, including one of the market leaders, the Los Angeles Times.

While newspapers and other print vehicles have been taking their content and slapping it onto Web pages for years, in the last several months the information flow has begun going the other way. Newspapers, always hungry for good content, are increasingly coming to the Web to get it.

For Web sites, the move to the print world clearly makes a lot of sense. "It's our idea to branch onto as many places and people as possible," Hill said. "People who read the column may end up going to the Web site. Yesterday was the biggest day of site traffic that we've had on our America Online site and our Web site, and I don't think that's a coincidence."

Salon has also began offering its content up for syndication through United Features Syndicate, and others are following suit as well.

In the case of Salon, United Features approached the Web publisher, but it's far more common for Web sites to approach the syndicate, hoping for distribution out in the physical world, according to Robert Levy, executive editor of United Features.

"We think Salon is pretty much the best thing out there, at least in terms of a magazine that deals with cultural content," Levy said. "We're looking for content on the Web, and tons and tons of people with Web sites are sending material. I'm constantly barraged with material asking us to syndicate their stuff."

The problem, Levy added, is that most of the content is not up to snuff. "In general, the quality of content that's originating on the Web is actually fairly poor and, at this point, a little sophomoric."

As an example, he sited a site of movie reviews that an agent was pushing. "Not only were the reviews poor, they were ungrammatical, badly edited, and filled with misspellings."

However, Levy said that United Features will continue to look at the Web for that diamond in the rough. Meanwhile, Web sites are sure to continue jumping on the print bandwagon.

As Andrew Ross, managing editor of Salon, said: "It's another way of reaching a potential of people who are perhaps more used to reading the newspaper than they are reading the Web."

 

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