For my fellow Knight-Ridder refugees, Jack Shafer at Slate has a good read called How Newspapers Tried to Invent the Web (but failed). The piece mentions Viewtron, the Mercury News going online and the Information Design Lab. It doesn’t mention Knight-Ridder’s investment in Netscape or about 100 other things they (we) were just too early on, or, in most cases, gave up on too soon. Just surfing around there’s lots of interesting stuff on the IDL, videotext, etc… This was the best thing I came across:
Ridder’s strategy was to keep the company focused on its roots in the newspaper business. Major acquisitions made in 1997 included the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Kansas City Star, both of which were purchased from the Disney Corporation after Knight-Ridder sold its electronic media division, Knight-Ridder Information, Inc. The $1.65 million deal was heralded as a strong indication of the viability of American newspapers, and Ridder was praised for his vote of confidence in the old-fashioned broadsheet. Under his directive, Knight-Ridder papers increased their local news coverage, which both pleases readers and yields higher advertising revenues.
Tony Ridder’s leadership of the Knight Ridder organization, whose name dropped the hyphen and “Inc.” in 1998, helped shape the course of the frail U.S. newspaper industry during the 1990s. His strategy of making unpopular but fiscally beneficial decisions to achieve profitability was largely a success. He took over the company during a period mired in doubt over the viability of newspapers in an electronic age, but Ridder’s regimen of financial austerity and content revitalization proved that newspaper publishing could still be a healthy business endeavor. While Knight Ridder and the broader newspaper industry continued to face challenges in the wake of reforms like Ridder’s, his achievements instilled confidence in both his company and the industry.
C’est la vie.