‘The Printed Blog’: Is it the future of journalism?

images24A printed blog seems counter-intuitive but think again.

For example, I noticed the lead article in Tuesday’s edition of  my hometown newspaper The Union was something I’d reported on my blog a week ago: A local group launching a site on Facebook to promote economic development in our county.

Cool. I’m glad the group got the “ink.” I greatly admire them. 

My blog also was the first to report that Newmont Corp. was striking a multi-million-dollar settlement with Grass Valley on its old mine.

I’m not competing: I just hear things because I know people, I am an experienced and trained journalist in print and online, and now I can self publish items as a “citizen journalist.”  (Blogging is part of my daily routine, like swimming and hanging out with my family).

Many blogging sites are growing rapidly, too, including mine. With blogging, it’s back to the days where “content is king” and distribution is being re-examined.

As with bloggers, good newspaper editors and their publishers need good sourcing to make their products “unique” — or they will die. But other “citizen journalists” in our communities also can dig up some good information on their own. I’ve seen it.

Here’s an idea: What if a paper such as The Union — and entrepreneurs with brands such as The Printed Blog in a growing number of cities — were to “reverse publish” the content from my blog and others into print, sell ads to go with it, and hand it out for free? This would include commentary and photos, too.

Papers throughout the nation — big and small — could do the same. Bloggers might agree to this to get some broader exposure — and get paid as freelancers down the road. Some national blogs such as Daily Kos and Mark Cuban’s Blog Maverick would participate, too, at least with the startups. It would replace costly syndicated content — some of it dull. 

Sounds like a good business model, eh? Newspapers would die to do it but are locked into an “outdated” cost structure that’s tough to shed. Their managements are risk adverse (most journalists aren’t entrepreneurs) and also lack  Web experience. (Wearing a black turtleneck does not qualify).

Most bloggers are independent minded, too, so reigning them in is a challenge. 

In the meantime, startups such as “The Printed Blog” are making this happen *now.* The background on this publication, including a writeup on it from the New York Times, is here. (What I like: selling more reasonably-priced print ads until ad staffs get up to speed on selling to the Web. Yoo-hoo, we’re waiting.)

These are good people at “The Printed Blog,” among other enterpreneurs, who “get it.” As it turns out, journalists with experience in *both* print and online, such as myself, are in high demand now. We’re helping outfits such as “The Printed Blog” get off the ground.

It reminds me of the early days at CNET, an online publication that I helped start in the mid-’90s that was a “home run,” at least for us pioneers.

Journalism isn’t dead; it’s just changing. Stay tuned.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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