It seems you can’t surf the web these days without coming across an article warning about the imminent death of newspapers. Come to think of it, you can’t browse a magazine or a newspaper without someone reminding you in print that what you are reading may be the last printed thing you ever come across. According to some death-watchers, it’s not entirely unimaginable for even the grand daddy of newsprint, The New York Times, to go toe-up as early as May–yes, as in, four months from now.
So it’s of course tickling as hell to see a techie entrepreneur bring everything full circle by creating a printed newspaper composed entirely of blog entries. According to The New York Times, which actually pays people to write obituaries about itself, a start-up pub called The Printed Blog hopes to be leaving ink smudges on the fingertips of blogophiles across the country with its free, ad-funded, user-generated content. The idea is that each edition will be hyper-localized and funded by local advertisers, with content being provided for free by willing bloggers who are eager to see their online musings in the form of ink on paper. That’s right, folks! Print’s still doing a-okay when it comes to prestige factor in the minds of most writers. Perhaps monitoring blog stats just doesn’t measure up to spotting someone reading a piece of paper with your name on it at the local cafe?
Given that there is no paid reporting, don’t expect your local issue of The Printed Blog to be breaking news on the next Darfur. As is still the case today, bloggers will continue to rely on paid (and trained) investigative journalists to dig up the really important stories that they can then blog about. That said, since the newspapers can’t seem to come up with a sustainable model for their rapidly decaying enterprise, it’s nice to see a total outsider give it a go. At the very least it should provide a nice alternative to going blind in front of your laptop.
The first edition comes out on January 27 in Chicago and San Francisco. We’re sure all the doomsday Twitterers will be watching what happens with bated breath!