Mar 6, 2009

All the news you find fit to print

Los Angeles Daily News subscribers will be the first to test drive an electronic news-delivery system called "I-News" that Dean Singleton's MediaNews Group claims will turn readers into their own editors and publishers.

The "I" stands for "individuated" and the system purports to let subscribes choose which news stories they want to receive - and which ones they don't - via a stand-alone printer hooked up to a phone line or through a web-enabled device. The Daily News plans to test the "I-News" service sometime this summer.

From the Denver Post:

"You'll be able to choose the news you want about anything, whether you're a Detroit Red Wings fan or if you're green-oriented," said Mark Winkler, executive vice president of sales and marketing for MediaNews Group. "You become your own editor and publisher."

I-News gathers content not just from The Denver Post and other MediaNews papers but also from The Associated Press and other "scrapers of media," Wink ler said.

"We want to give the consumer exactly what they want," he said.

Time will tell whether this will be more useful to readers than Google Alerts and RSS feeds, and the story does not mention anything about subscription prices or delivery options. Will existing newspaper subscribers get the service for free? Can they dump the print edition and go with the e-edition only? Can new subscribers sign up for the e-edition without getting the printed newspaper? Will MediaNews offer these stand-alone printers for sale?

Then there's the moral hazard of turning newsrooms into buffet lines. If more subscribers want sports than City Hall coverage, will the paper cut resources to the latter? Or will revenues be shared equally? Is there a chance traditional beats will disappear if their numbers don't perform? Will subscribers have to pay more the more news topics they choose to receive?

Maybe more important in the short run, however, is a proposal mentioned toward the bottom of the Post's piece to cut the number of days the newspaper's print edition is published, as MediaNews has already done in Detroit:

One proposal, based on how well testing in Los Angeles goes, would be to print the newspaper only three days a week. That will already be the case with the two papers in Detroit, including MediaNews Group's Detroit News, starting March 31.

"Our greatest expense is printing and delivering a newspaper," Winkler said. "Eliminating it four days a week would be significant."


Anonymous said...

Want to take bets on the success of this venture. As they say down south, no way Jose. Another failure in the wings waiting to happen. Newspapers are having huge issues with print, now, they are going to compete with the Google's and Yahoo's of the world not counting the thousands of others that do it better than newspapers ever will.

Anonymous said...

"Eliminating it four days a week would be significant."
Oh boy.

Anonymous said...

They could save more money by eliminating it seven days a week. The way the paper looks now, they aren't far from it.

Anonymous said...

This is what they came up with to save the papers? This idea embodies the tragicomic idiocy of the suits.

Here's a must-watch newspaper 1981 experiment on YouTube that lasted about as long as Singleton's printer will: