Friday, August 7, 2009

A Business Model for the Christian Science Monitor. It's about versioned newspapers. I'll save the clickable print part for another time.

So I got my Friday afternoon digest email about news stuff from the

That took me to the snippet below about the Christian Science Monitor.
Circulation, Page Views Up at Christian Science Monitor:
August 6, 2009 Filed Under Business Bytes
Print circulation and Web traffic have grown at The Christian Science Monitor since its recent switch to “Web-first, plus print weekly but advertising remains sluggish and break-even a distant dream, Poynter’s Bill Mitchell reports.
Versioned digitally printed newspapers as teaching material:
My Weekly Reader on steroids.
CSM must have a very long tail of awesome stories. I've always been impressed by their international coverage and unique viewpoints. These days, I especially like their focus on what real people can do to overcome odds to improve their life.There might be a way to leverage this stream of stories to deliver into high schools to improve High School Kids learning how to learn by learning about the world around them.

Based on some announcements from Kodak this last week, it's going to be possible for a publisher to buy a 24 page tabloid newspaper in black and white at arbitrarily low run lengths (50 and up) about 20 cents each from a well equipped printer. That means 1000 copies for $200. This is still to be confirmed, but after a couple of tweets and blog posts, no one has yet said I've got this wrong.

Why not a system that allows teachers to choose the stories they want for their class next week, port the chosen stories into a printstream from XML and deliver newspapers to the school a couple of days after the request. This may sound hard for a newspaper publisher. But it's easy for the right printers. There are some now and lots more soon scattered all over the States.

Minimal Extra Expense for CSM
There is no further overhead on print production. Just call the right printer. There is only a minimal stress on the design staff - it's all about rules based typography and database publishiing. So the marginal cost to CSM is minimal.

"Show me the Money"
The revenue stream might be some budget diverted from the textbook line. Or even better, it could be delivered free-to-the-school and supported by New Yorker type advertising from non profit and government enterprises. If it's ok with the school, it could also include local businesses.

The really cool thing about the advertising is that it can be gathered at a super low cost by using twitter streams. The MinnPost is now testing on their website, but in my not so humble opinion, the real revenue comes from print.

Since the same 24 pages are sold over and over in different schools, that might mean Classifieds in versioned paper. Everyone knows that classifieds have always been the killer app for newspapers.

If this sounds promising, you might want to check out my posts at PBS/Media Shift. or keep a close eye on the upcoming GraphExpo in Chicago. Since CSM is in Boston, they might want to stop by at the Transpromo Show being held there next week. I'm pretty sure the Kodak folks would love to take a meeting to tell you all about it. If them try Oce or InfoPrint or HP. The printing biz is all about wide width ink jet printing. I know that may sound like blablaba, but check it out to see what it might mean for getting some margins flowing back in the door.

And if this doesn't sensible. Take a look at this post from Save the News:
Looking for a business model: After a blog hiatus since February, copy editor and journalism student Suzanne Yada comes back full force on her blog with two great posts. The first lists 14 blogs that she finds do a good job of writing about journalism business models. It’s a great list that includes many favorites of mine and some new ones that I’ll be sure to add to my RSS feeder. Her second post is about social media and how it must be integrated into journalism studies — not relegated to a separate class. She offers some wise tips to make this happen. I agree wholeheartedly with this. As I said in an earlier post, my hope is that someday soon we’ll stop calling it online journalism and just call it what it is: journalism.

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