CityToolsA computer platform that allows newspapers to share news and classified advertising will launch early next month.

US-based CityTools will enable newspaper publishers to create content networks with one another and draw on articles written by members of the public.

Developers claim that several US newspapers are interested in the service, which they hope will eventually become a none-proprietary standard for exchanging content.

"One of the big things that many people think will change the trajectory of the industry is providing the ability for newspapers to share content, both classified and news content, in quick ad-hoc networks that are narrowly sliced," said Robert Cauthorn, president of CityTools.

"What we are trying to do is create a system where the barriers to a relevant flow of information are really removed while everyone still has their commercial interests in tact."

CityTools, which will initially launch to provide access to news pieces with a classified service launching soon after, is claimed by its developer to be a potential rival to the dominance of search engines.

"Google provides you mass aggregation but it is also like a shotgun approach. It hits you with all sorts of stuff that does not matter to you.

"If you spin the CityTools model forward, you can go to your local newspaper website and suddenly, because they have built smart networks and smart relationships with other publishers, you get reliable content. The same kind of mass but its all relevant to the local readership," said Mr Cauthorn.

Publishers pay a $650 flat monthly rate for the service which also allows them access to articles submitted to a public-facing CityTools website where people can share original news pieces under a creative commons licence.

The public can also establish networks on the platform.

"Imagine this as a combination of a file-sharing network and a social network for newspapers where they can discover one-another, form alliances and aggregate markets all for the benefit of the reader, the advertiser and the publisher - everybody wins," said Mr Cauthorn.

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