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Inside Higher Ed Emphasizes Online Focus

By Annys Shin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 7, 2005; Page E05

Two years ago, Kathlene Collins, a veteran of the Chronicle of Higher Education's recruitment advertising department, stepped down. A few weeks later, editor Scott Jaschik and managing editor Doug Lederman followed her out the door. "We realized we and the Chronicle had different visions for the direction of the publication and the company, and that it was in all our best interests for us to go our separate ways," Lederman said.

After they left the Chronicle, a prestigious District-based weekly publication, the three said they started working on a new online publication about higher education. "We realized we loved the market. And we worked really well together and wanted to find a way to do that," Lederman said.

Scott Jaschik, left, Kathlene Collins and Doug Lederman believe a stronger online orientation can make a higher education publication more efficient and affordable. (Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

Name: Inside Higher Ed

Location: Washington

Big idea: Creating an online community for academics with news and information plus advanced tools to help colleges and potential employees find one another.

Founded: 2005

Web site:www.insidehighered.com

Who's in charge: Scott Jaschik, editor; Doug Lederman, editor; Kathlene Collins, publisher.

Funding: Jaschik, Lederman and Collins said they raised money to build the site from private sources including friends, family and angel investors.

Employees: Three full time; four part time. Projected staff of more than 20 within a year.

Partners: Interfolio, a District document management company designed the recruitment software.

Big-name clients: The founders say advertisers include TIAA-CREF, starting in April, and numerous colleges with job advertising, starting within weeks.

Origin of company name: "We want everyone in academe to feel that they have the inside scoop on what's going on, and the inside track on the best professional opportunities," Jaschik said.

The three raised seed money from a variety of sources including friends, family and angel investors to build Inside Higher Ed. The test version of the site, at insidehighered.com, offers a sampling of news stories and a promise that its job listings are "coming soon."

Academic institutions were among the early adopters of the Internet and remain among the most wired of places. Yet for years, the two major outlets covering higher education were the Chronicle and the now-defunct Lingua Franca, both best-known as print publications.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, which has been publishing since 1966, took to the Web early, posting news and academic jobs starting in 1993. Today, its Web site, available free only to print subscribers, provides the full contents of the publication and daily news updates as well as job postings and frequently updated articles about job hunting and recruiting.

But Jaschik, Lederman and Collins said the Chronicle's $82.50-a-year subscription price was out of reach for many in higher education, especially graduate students. They sought to reach a broader audience, Jaschik said.

Jaschik and his partners are selling advertising. But they hope their main revenue will come from selling a suite of services to recruiters who list jobs on the Web site.

Job seekers can go onto the site free to file their curriculum vitae in a résumé bank, along with letters of recommendation and cover letters. They can also send material to prospective employers electronically. For the cost of posting an ad on the site, recruiters can take advantage of software developed for Inside Higher Ed and licensed by Interfolio, a District document-management company, that helps them handle the flow of applications for various positions.

The Chronicle looked into offering such services to recruiters but found tepid demand, said Philip W. Semas, the editor-in-chief. "We found colleges are not particularly interested in having us manage that [part of the process] for them," he said. Semas said he considers his former colleagues' new venture as competition, "but it's hard to tell how much until they launch their site."

In addition to the Chronicle, Inside Higher Ed is taking on HigherEdJobs.com, a nine-year-old job-listing Web site for academic institutions that is based in State College, Pa. "Time will tell," said HigherEdJobs.com President John P. Ikenberry when asked about the new player in the market.

HigherEdJobs.com offers no content other than its listings. Collins of Inside Higher Ed said the key for recruiters is getting the attention of people who aren't actively looking for new jobs. It will be up to Jaschik and Lederman to come up with content that will turn Inside Higher Ed into a destination and draw people to job listings they might not otherwise have checked out.

Jaschik and Lederman have been busy posting fresh stories on the site daily. Blog-style commentary is in the works. "Part of the excitement of Web-based journalism is you can change it with relative ease, and we will," Jaschik said.

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