It’s not hard to see why those in the print publication industry are nervous. Magazines are folding, downsizing, cutting costs and workers. Prominent newspapers like The Chicago Tribune have filed for Chapter 11 bankrupcy and others like The New York Times have struggled simply to hold onto their assets. Late last year, the Times was planning to mortgage its office building for $225 million while publications like The Rocky Mountain News and The Miami Herald were put up for sale.
The economy is a factor but the decline of print publications can largely be blamed on the internet and the invention of the 24-hour news outlet, the web being able to provide up to the second coverage that print papers could never compete with. So why does Joshua Karper, publisher and founder of the Chicago-based start-up publication “The Printed Blog” think that the internet will save print?
“We are trying to be the first daily newspaper comprised entirely of blogs and other user-generated content,” he said. “There were so many techniques that I’ve seen working online that maybe I could apply to the print industry.”
His paper, which will feature local content and first only be circulated in the Chicago and San Francisco markets, plans to use blog content, user provided photographs and anecdotes to populate the pages. And – as if that wasn’t radical enough – the paper will be free.
By selling ad space to local businesses with the promise that the readership will be completely targed towards their audience, Karp hopes to revive the print model by capitalizing on the open source nature of the web. Of course, there are still costs associated with print that are unavoidable – ink, paper and printing materials to name just a few. But there are some solutions. “The Printed Blog” plans to put its printers in the homes of the distribution centers thereby eliminating the cost of having a main manufacturing plant.
Where does all this content come from? Karp is working with local and national bloggers to sign agreements that let him and his volunteer staff of 10 repurpose their content for the paper in exchange for a small amount of generated ad revenue.
“The arrangement is mutually beneficial,” said Lauren Dimet Waters, editor in chief of Second City Style, a Chicago blog that has agreed to be reprinted. “If they can make money off of our blog, I can’t imagine we wouldn’t, too, because of the exposure,” she said. “If it gets us exposure to 20 new people, then I’ll be happy.”
Will this new model save the print industry and revolutionize the notion of the free daily paper? Joshua Karp certainly thinks so.
Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter