Joshua Karp has his own definition of reality.
In an age where the benefits of the internet are undeniable and the consequences of the hyper-presence of technology in our culture a topic of constant dialogue, one man is setting off on what would seem a possibly quixotic attempt to start a business publishing newspapers. This man is Joshua Karp, and he has started a company called, The Printed Blog. The aim of Mr. Karp’s company is to print material from blogs on the internet in newspapers that are distributed in specific targeted areas within large cities, providing would be blog readers with a tangible media to consume and advertisers an affordable way to get their ads seen by a highly localized audience of readers. Kind of like google ads in print.
Immediately some questions come to mind: isnt’ that wasteful? After the Tribune Company declared bankruptcy, The New York Times froze salaries and most major publishers have been showing declines in readership and that force them into massive layoffs, hasn’t the newspaper proven itself to be an unprofitable business? Don’t blogs derive their main appeal from the fact that they are immediate and doesn’t the nature of printing destroy that immediacy? The trend among newspapers has been away from print and onto the internet; why should it work the other way around?
Two things seem to position the venture as a potential success despite a trend away from print media: the fact that an increasing number of free newspapers, such as Metro New York are proving profitable in the nations big cities, and the fact that the approach The Printed Blog plans to take to advertising is geared towards making advertising affordable in the way that local newspapers, which are rapidly disappearing once did, by targteting specific print runs to specific neighborhoods. While we always hear about small business being the engine of the us economy, there are limited media outlets affordable for advertising to local butcher shops, record stores and divorce attorneys. The local, affordable ad space combined with an extremely limited staff (a lot of interns and a few paid editors) give The Printed Blog an edge on all the papers out there that pay journalists over 100 grand to live in Uzbekistan and write two articles a month that make it to press. Bloggers, often erudite experts in narrow fields, are accustomed to working for ad revenues instead of a salary and might deliver more exciting content than the types of journalists small newspapers can afford are capable of writing.
Should the venture float in the economy, and there is some evidence that it may, would it further contribute to the atrophy of the fact checking and editorial management that produced our greatest journalists in the past, or might it bring some of the smaller blogs out there into a world where they are accountable in print and therein up the standard of the information on the net? I suppose we will have to wait and see. If this generations Woodward and Bernstein are to be found working for the Daily Kos, maybe they will find their way into print after all.
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