Sun executive to head Times Mirror unit

Schneider to lead effort to centralize chain's Web efforts

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November 02, 1999|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

Hilary A. Schneider, general manager of the Baltimore Sun Co., was named president and chief executive officer yesterday of Times Mirror Interactive, a unit newly created to manage Time Mirror Corp.'s Internet businesses.

Schneider, 38, will be responsible for creating a centralized strategy for the online properties of Times Mirror, the parent company of The Sun.

In her new post, Schneider will report directly to Mark H. Willes, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Times Mirror.

The new company will be based in Baltimore. Schneider said it eventually will have 20 to 40 employees.

"The goal within Times Mirror Interactive will be to look at what we have and to develop a growth strategy for our Internet businesses," said Schneider.

Among the online services are news, entertainment listings and classified advertisements.

Publishers increasingly are creating separate business units for their Internet and new-media companies. By doing so, those typically fast-growing businesses can be better managed. What's more, creating the separate entity makes it easier for Wall Street analysts to put a value on them -- which over time should yield a higher market value for the overall corporations, analysts said.

That's why creating Times Mirror Interactive was a key move for Times Mirror, said Peter A. Appert, an analyst at Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown.

"A lot of newspaper companies are deciding -- and quite correctly, in my opinion -- that they need a centralized, specific focus [for their Internet ventures]," Appert said. "Such important decisions can't be left to each individual newspaper within Times Mirror."

Appert said Times Mirror was "a little late" in creating the separate unit but that the delay might have benefited the company because its executives were able to see the mistakes other newspaper companies made with their online ventures.

Too often, Schneider said, newspaper companies imbue their online ventures with a "defensive" mentality that the Internet units are meant to protect their franchises for local news, particularly local classifieds.

That's the wrong mind-set, she said. Times Mirror Interactive is designed to be a growth venture, finding incremental revenues and extending the brand names of Times Mirror's publications.

Viewing the Internet as a way for newspapers to build their business is the correct philosophy, said Eugene Fram, an e-commerce expert and marketing professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology College of Business.

"It's mandatory," he said. "They can't afford not to expand."

Like most Internet ventures, few if any newspapers are making money in cyberspace. But it's early, and many are seeing good revenue growth, said Deutsche Banc's Appert.

Schneider is "terrifically smart, has tremendous energy and is very creative. She's first-rate," said Michael E. Waller, publisher and chief executive officer of the Baltimore Sun Co.

She was named vice president of sales in 1996 and became general manager last year.

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