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The Los Angeles Times may be able to take a tip or two from four Wharton seniors on how to increase its profits.

The undergraduate Wharton team placed second at the University of Southern California's annual Marshall International Case Competition, in which participating teams have to solve a real world business problem in 24 hours.

This year the case - revealed exactly 24 hours before the time of presentation -- was to address the challenges of print media in the face of the advent of digital media, focusing on the Times as the client for the competition.

The 30 top-ranked domestic and foreign business schools were invited to send their teams to Los Angeles for the competition, which took place two weeks ago.

All teams presented their case analyses and recommendations in front of a panel of judges, followed by a question and answer session. From there six teams were chosen for the final round, where they gave the presentation again to a larger panel of judges later that afternoon.

Traditional media has seen a decline in terms of revenue, Wharton senior Edan Yacobovsky said.

While media as a whole has been growing at a rate of about one percent, online media has fared better with a growth of around 20 percent, Wharton senior Daniel Shin said. Therefore, the team felt that the Times should leverage its resources of its online component.

Strategically located in Los Angeles - a hub of political and economic activity - Shin said the paper, a part of giant media conglomerate the Tribune company, is well-positioned to distribute the city's local news to a global audience.

The tactical component of their solution involved taking advantage of the opportunities presented by new media tools, including blogs and social networking sites, to encourage user contribution and to develop new revenue streams for the paper, Wharton senior Daniel Francis said.

With the tagline "one paper, millions of voices," the team's vision was to create a community of readers for the Times.

Although they had originally set aside a couple of hours for sleep in order to be fresh and rested for the presentation, the team found itself working around the clock to finish on time.

Although it was intense during the crunch periods culminating in the presentations, students said the event itself wasn't all work and no play.

Francis said they also had time to interact with the other competitors through socializing events such as a scavenger hunt and a tour of Paramount Studios.

Marketing professor Keith Niedermeier, who was the faculty coach for the team, said that taking part in a case competition is a beneficial experience for students.

"It's one of the rare opportunities you get to take all the things that you learned and put them to work in one project," Niedermeier said.

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