Skip to content

The Undiscovered Symbiosis of Print and Online Media- Part 2

January 31, 2009


The newspaper form is experiencing a revival. At this point, you would  almost be justified in saying, “this statement completely contradicts what you said in Part 1!” However, this posting is about the revival of the newsprint form, even if the current business model is on its way out.

I admit that when I wrote the first of this two-part posting, I did not know exactly what the follow-up piece would be about, but a voice inside me told me to slap “Part 1” on the end; the theme is far too immense to be covered in a single posting. Part 2 came to me as a gift. CBC Spark, a relatively new radio show that covers information technology issues, aired a story this week about the “comeback” of newspapers, an optimistic resolution to my piece on their decline. This phenomenon involves the generation of newspapers out of content originally found on blog sources, reinforcing my assertion mediums need not oust and replace one another, but can coexist and commingle.

Spark’s host, Nora Young, interviews Ben Terrett, publisher of the newspaper, Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet, which consists of 23 blog posts printed onto old-fashioned, inky newsprint, pictures and all. The paper’s motto is, “All the ephemera that’s fit to print.” Mr. Terrett’s premise is that anyone can get something published online, but the newspaper form somehow gives ideas more authority, in part because it has undergone a curating process. Terrett also wanted to see what words written for the screen would look like once printed out. One work he cites, Dan Hill’s The Street as Platform, works well on paper because it is so long, many readers don’t make it through the screen version uninterrupted.

A company called Printcasting is turning digital publishing on its head by doing what they call, well… “Printcasting.” This puts the curatorial process into the hands of the public, who are invited to create a magazine out of their favourite local blogs. The resulting magazines are aggregated from the publisher’s blog entries. They can then be emailed or have the file printed. The man behind the project, Dan Pacheco, calls the model “Citizen Publishing.” It pays for itself with local advertising, and the profits are split between the company, the local publisher, and the blog writers. Pacheco explains that this results in a niche product that better targets what people want to read about, and this attracts advertisers. They will begin operations in March, so if you have any publishing ideas involving your favourite local blogs, click the link and check out what they do.

There are many things that the print format has always done well, and one of those is attaining a greater revenue and audience share. Web-based publications have not done well with audience retention, and advertisers (the ones paying the bills) know this.

People often forget the merits of an older technology when immersed in a newer one. There is value in a format that can be read in the bathtub, or can be thrown into a bag and enjoyed in transit, without dependency on a signal. Blogs have done a fine job of covering interesting perspectives and local or niche stories. Coming full-circle by putting them into paper could fuse the advantages of both mediums into one antiquated package from the future.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: