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The Printed Blog: Act II

August 20: Little more than a year ago, The Printed Blog stopped the presses after only 16 issues. But that wasn’t the end for founder Joshua Karp, who continued to receive phone calls from people expressing an interest in the concept.

“Finally it dawned on me that The Printed Blog hadn’t concluded, it had merely taken a breather,” Karp said. And now it’s back. On Wednesday, the publication’s website re-launched exhibiting past issues and a witty new motto: “Like the Internet, only flammable.”

The Printed Blog as a concept is a print publication that contains articles from blogs that span the Web. Unlike last time when the publication launched as a free weekly distributed at transportation hubs in San Francisco and Chicago, the publication hasn’t published a print edition yet. And it won’t until it gains at least 3,000 subscribers. A weekly subscription goes for $10.00 a month.

The original idea for The Printed Blog came to him when he saw how poorly the newspaper industry was doing two years ago. He saw citizen journalists creating content for free and an idea blossomed. He thought “maybe there’s an opportunity from this giant pool of blog content, to deliver to people in a nice beautiful package,” he said. “It was sort of counter to the way the industry was going and it just struck me that nobody was doing it.”

A proponent for bloggers getting paid, Karp will pay his content producers from a percentage of the subscription revenue. Meanwhile, the bloggers just keep on doing their thing, while possibly generating more readers and advertising for their blogs.

Jenny Lawson’s blog, The Bloggess, will be one in a number of blogs that the publication will carry. The idea appeals to Lawson, who also pens a blog for the Houston Chronicle, because it brings that extra visibility to her work. “It helps build communities and features up-and-coming writers who need that boost in confidence to keep going,” she said in an e-mail interview. “It also brings new readers together with new writers in a way that might not have been possible otherwise.”

This time around, Karp has also enlisted the help of celebrities, such as Brittany Snow and Sara Paxton to act as guest editors and help in the selection of blogs for the week. Also involved is celebrity photographer Tyler Shields, who is co-founder and photo editor of The Printed Blog, which is an image heavy publication.

One of the greatest strengths of print is the visual appeal, noted Alan Mutter, former newspaper editor, current media consultant and author of the blog, Reflections of a Newsosaur. The Printed Blog employs this aspect by providing readers with a product that is visually enticing, featuring vivid, edgy photos. “I think he [Karp] knows what he has to do, I think he’s on the right track, but I’m not sure this particular paradigm will be that appealing to that many people,” Mutter said.

For instance, everything being published in The Printed Blog is already available on the Web, he noted. Secondly, Mutter believes that blogging is on its way to becoming an artifact to younger consumers. “What I think history will show us is the golden era of blogging is probably behind us,” he said. “I think there was a period of time when blogging was the thing to do and now I think Facebooking and Tweeting are the things to do.”

Even so, Mutter said there’s always the chance it could be successful and he praised Karp for trying. “I think it’s absolutely a perfectly excellent idea to see if people would subscribe to something like this,” Mutter said. “We’re all trying to figure out what the new thing is going to be. We always have to commend people for trying new stuff because this might be hot.”

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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