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In Shifting Media Landscape, Print Publications Transition to Web

As print publications lose subscribers to the Web, some are making major staff cuts and one -- the Christian Science Monitor -- is axing its paper edition in favor of online-only content. Analysts weigh in on the changes and what they mean for the media world and readers.

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    A landmark legal settlement yesterday allows the Internet search giant Google to continue its years-long project to scan books and make them available on the Internet.

    Google will pay $125 million to settle two copyright suits brought by book publishers and authors. The deal will make it easier for all parties to profit from the digital versions of printed books.

    Google has already scanned 7 million texts, nearly 5 million of which were out of print, everything from classics to esoteric science texts and how-to books on ancient trades.

    Until this settlement, users could only see parts of these scanned works unless the copyright holder let the entire work be viewed. That will now change for books that are out of print.

    But even as the deal points to a continued revamping of the world of books, including one where they're read on new devices like the Kindle, yesterday also brought still more tumult to another sector of the print world.

    Newspapers and magazines, suffering from a decade-long drop in readership and advertising revenues, are taking a new hit as the economy slows. Circulation at most major U.S. newspapers dropped nearly 5 percent from March to September, forcing more cuts.

    Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper company, announced yesterday it will lay off 10 percent of its workforce, some 3,000 employees.

    Time, Inc., will give out 600 pink slips across its wide spectrum of magazines.

    The Star Ledger of Newark, N.J., will avoid ceasing operation all together only by cutting its already-thin editorial staff by 40 percent.

    And the Los Angeles Times yesterday announced yet another round of newsroom layoffs, as its parent company, Tribune, seeks to cut costs further. The paper now has about half the newsroom staff it had in 2001.

    In perhaps the most dramatic move to date, the century-old Christian Science Monitor announced yesterday it would cease daily publication and migrate most of its publishing to the Web, the first national newspaper to do so. It will still put out a weekly roundup.