A Printed Blog?

It’s no secret that most major newspapers in the US are losing money.

While some will disappear altogether, a few are shutting down their print version and trying to figure out how to build a profitable business on the web.

With that as a background, the excellent NPR program On The Media has a segment this week about a new dead-tree publication called The Printed Blog that will use material drawn from blogs, flickr and other content sites.

The first editions will target three neighborhoods in Chicago and one in San Francisco with plans to expand to New York soon. The founders hope that a combination of “hyperlocal” content with very cheap advertising (and a price tag of free) will be a financial winner.

After introducing the concept, the interviewer went on to ask the exact question I was thinking.

Now, I can see how this is in many ways just another form of aggregation, like the Drudge Report or Fark or even Google News only in printed form. But isn’t it also kind of the worst of both worlds? You’ve got blog content minus the immediacy minus commentability minus correctability, all distributed the slow and expensive old-fashioned way at high cost.

Certainly there is some valuable writing being produced by bloggers (not necessarily this one) and I’m not one of those who believes the printed newspaper is going to totally disappear.

However, I doubt that repurposing content that was intended to be interactive with a medium that is far from it will help newsprint survive.

Another Frightening Show About the Economy

Last May, the public radio program This American Life presented an edition of their show called The Giant Pool of Money which did an excellent job of explaining the mortgage crisis and how it was affecting the financial markets.

Six months later, with an economic meltdown in progress, the same reporters are back this week with Another Frightening Show About the Economy.

This is, without a doubt, the best explanation I’ve heard of how we’ve arrived at the mess we’re in. It’s also the kind of reporting that we should be getting from the major news outlets, especially the business talking heads channels.

Grab the show (from the TAL web site or iTunes) and listen while it’s free. It’s well worth an hour of your time.

[Which brings up the one annoying thing about This American Life. Their programs are available to download free for one week following the broadcast. After that you must pay to get the file or listen online (and capture the stream with the right software :-).]