The new media arms of Knight Ridder, which owns the Charlotte Observer, and the McClatchy Company, which owns The News & Observer in Raleigh, are joining forces for some special projects.

In what both companies described as a “digital partnership,” Knight Ridder Digital said Monday that McClatchy owned web sites and its Nando Media publishing and content arm would become part of its Real Cities web network.

Nando Media, which is based in Raleigh, provides content publishing tools, web hosting and news content. Its name stems from “News & Observer.”

“We are providing them with content, and they are doing ad repping for local sites,” said James Calloway, executive vice president of Nando Media. “It’s essentially a joint effort in a number of areas.”

The companies said Nando Media would become “a premier content partner” for Real Cities.

Christian Hendricks, vice president of interactive media for McClatchy, told Local Tech Wire that the deal provides Nando with access to a sales staff that already works with large-scale advertisers. “They have reps working at a national level that can approach an AT&T,” he explained. As an example, Hendricks said Nando would prepare content for special sections, such as about the Super Bowl, and the Knight Ridder sales force would sell the advertising. The combined product would then be sold across the entire network.

“This decision doesn’t affect staffing levels,” he added and noted that the deal was non-exclusive.

Knight Ridder operates 68 web sites, including 21 in the nation’s top 30 markets. Among its sites is charlotte.com. McClatchy operates 12 sites, including newsobserver.com and triangle.com in RTP. Both companies said that the combined sites broadened the scope of news coverage and advertising reach.

Hilary Schneider, president and chief executive officer of Knight Ridder Digital, said in a statement that the deal “further strengthens Real Cities’ position as the leading national network of local news and information sites.”

The combined network will reach 14.2 million unique visitors, or 11 percent of the US online population, according to Nielsen Net Ratings.

Calloway said Nando Media would continue to provide services to other newspapers. Its largest client is the New York Daily News.

A growing revenue driver for Nando is the line of web publishing tools it sells. “Those are quite an important revenue stream for us,” Calloway said. “Our tools are apparently clicking.”

Hendricks concurred, saying the tools are appealing to other newspaper publishing firms because of Nando’s digital experience. “They like the look and feel of what we do compared to other third-party vendors,” he said.

Nando Media: www.nandomedia.com

Real Cities: www.realcities.com