My colleague Jon Fine has an interesting column this week that breaks news about discussions between Yahoo! and newspaper publishers MediaNews (owner of the San Jose Mercury News) and Hearst (owner of the San Francisco Chronicle) to help each other boost traffic and get more ad revenue from search.

As an old fogey who still reads newspapers, I hope he's right that newspaper publishers are finally getting serious. But I wonder. One of them talks about micropayments for stories, which always seems like it should work but clearly hasn't, and I don't know why it would work any better now. No mention of opening up subscription walls, which really seems like the only way to play in the world of search. I'm not sure how long they can hold on to tired models before they lose out on the opportunities entirely.

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