Yahoo partners with papers — but what does it leave the papers?

yahoo.bmpYahoo announced a partnership with a consortium of more than 150 newspapers, in an effort to let the struggling newspaper industry find greater distribution for things like their job ads.

Yahoo struck the deal several major newspaper companies, each of which own scores of newspapers, including MediaNews (publisher of Silicon Valley’s Mercury News), Hearst (publisher of the SF Chronicle), and Cox Newspapers.

The Mercury News summary of the deal is here. Note that CareerBuilder, the site the Mercury News and other former Knight Ridder newspapers used for their online advertising is not mentioned anywhere in the news today. That former relationship made sense, because Knight Ridder owned part of CareerBuilder — and so Knight Ridder publications were able to hold on to the customer relationship indirectly, even though the customer ended up at CareerBuilder.

However, when Knight Ridder sold this year, the Mercury News fell to MediaNews. The Yahoo deal means that Yahoo’s job site, HotJobs, has taken over the Merc’s online relationship for jobs. This is unfortunate because it just means more brand confusion. It does nothing to stop employers or prospective job searchers from leaving the Merc, and going to HotJobs, where there are inevitably going to be more jobs. (And we haven’t seen any agreement by HotJobs to not take job listings in the Merc’s territory). Also noteworthy is that Hilary Schneider, a Yahoo vice president helped negotiate the deal, just several months after she left a job where she oversaw these issues at Knight-Ridder.

It’s unclear how this really helps newspapers like the Mercury News, but it’s not clear what alternative they have either.