05 June 2009

Print Your Own Newspaper

The publisher of the Denver Post this week began enabling readers to print personalised newsletters from their homes, PoynterNews reports.

MediaNews Group's "Individuated News," or I-Edition, project has been in a test phase since early April, when the company began offering the 12-page product for a dozen extended-stay guests at a Denver hotel. Now around two dozen homes in one city neighbourhood also are receiving the service; later this summer, additonal homes in Los Angeles, where the company owns the Daily News, are scheduled to be added.

The company hopes advertising revenue will make the initiative worthwhile. Unlike Internet projects that may be popular but lack a business model, MediaNews Group Vice President Peter Vandevanter said, "This is kind of the opposite. We know the business model is solid, and we'll find out how popular it will be."

According to the company plan, consumers will pay the printer's manufacturer a highly discounted price for the Internet-equipped device, plus a modest subscription price to the local newspaper. The paper reimburses the consumer for ink and paper, and advertisers pay the paper to get their messages delivered to customers located nearby.

The newsletters include news, tailored according to subscriber choices among 240 Associated Press news categories, and two pages of advertising coupons.

If the project is a success, MediaNews hopes to be able to curtail daily publication of the expensive print publication. But initial announcements about the project were greeted with skepticism. As long as the company is providing ink and paper to consumers, there are still significant "printing" costs involved. And alternative methods of news customisation are quick, easy and free online. These and other concerns have been summarised by, among others, Martin Langeveld at NiemanJournalismLabs.

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