Sun makes Web debut Launch: The Baltimore Sun Co. yesterday unveiled SunSpot, a World Wide Web site offering classified ads, news, sports, a place to chat and a local soap opera.

September 25, 1996|By Liz Bowie, Sun Staff

The Baltimore Sun Co. launched a World Wide Web site yesterday, embarking on a business venture it hopes will attract users and advertisers with a particularly community-oriented, interactive design.

Dubbed SunSpot, the free Web site can help people accomplish many things: buy a used 1988 Ford Taurus in Annapolis, find a good restaurant in East Baltimore, locate other people with a special interest in speaking Italian or dig up a 1984 stat on Cal Ripken.

Among its offerings is an electronic version of the classified ads, the day's news, real-time sports updates and a local calendar of events. For those who like to talk on the Internet, there is "Crabhouse," a place where computer users with similar interests can exchange information. There's even a local soap opera.

"It is not a traditional newspaper Web site. It is not a computerized version of today's Baltimore Sun which we hope you read this morning," said Mary E. Junck, publisher and CEO, at a news conference. "We have designed it to be a resource for the community."

About 300 daily newspapers in America have Web sites, according to the Newspaper Association of America, a trade association in Washington, D.C. SunSpot Publisher Lawrence Kessner said the Baltimore Sun Co. waited to see how other newspaper Web sites performed before deciding to develop a different product.

There will be no charge for the basic SunSpot service. In the future, however, fees may be charged for some specialized services. About 20 percent of the state's population has access to the Internet, but that is expected to increase dramatically.

The company expects SunSpot to be a significant revenue source in the future when more advertisers and users sign on. Five companies already have signed up as advertisers. Economic forecasters predict the value of Web advertising nationally will rise to $110 million this year from about $60 million last year. Media analyst Ken Noble at Noble Consultants said Web sites for newspapers are still in the experimental stage and haven't produced large revenues.

SunSpot can be accessed at: http: //www.sunspot.net.

Pub Date: 9/25/96

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