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'Printed Blog,' Curiosity that Piqued Newspaper Industry Interest, Folds.

The future folded Tuesday. If, that is, the future of the print newspaper was indeed The Printed Blog.

In an announcement, the Printed Blog's creator and one-man financier, Joshua Karp, said the newspaper had failed to attract outside investment capital and needed to be shut down immediately.

While the Printed Blog apparently could not attract money, it definitely attracted newspaper industry interest. Before a single issue appeared, it was the subject of articles worldwide, from The New York Times to the Irish Times. With just three issues under his belt, Karp talked seriously to E&P about establishing editions in South Africa and Fairbanks, Alaska.

It seemed like a possibility by the time E&P wrote about the Printed Blog for its March print issue, the paper had editions in its home base of Chicago, plus San Francisco and New York City.

Karp's idea was to get content from local bloggers with their permission and, eventually, some kind of payment. The content was put in a highly templated format that, Karp ultimately hoped, could change not just by city but by neighborhood. The highly targeted paper, distributed by hand at mass transit stops, was supposed to be cheap to produce for low ad rates that ultimately would sustain the paper.

The first issues feature stunning photography on a rich paper stock roughly the size of a Berliner format. The content was as eclectic as the blogosphere, and occasionally was R-rated.

All told the paper put out 16 editions and distributed 80,000 print copies with another 100,000 downloaded, Karp said.

As he was cranking up the paper, amid the many interviews for trade and journalism publications, Karp often said those he consulted said he was nuts to try the idea.

"I may still be nuts, but I have zero regrets," he said in his blog.

Crazy though it was called the Printed Blog concept had proved its merit, Karp said: "It won't surprise me at all to find some of our ideas strategically implemented elsewhere in the months ahead, as I suspect our relatively short run will have some long-term effect on the evolution of newsprint."

Karp says he has had "a dozen" inquiries about licensing or partnering over the paper's six-month run.

Karp was a management consultant with no newspaper experience when he created the Printed Blog. He had created and then sold a government procurement software suite, an apparently tidy sum that permitted investment in the newspaper.

"Despite a significant personal investment on my part, and the additional support of six or seven credit cards, we were unable to raise the minimum amount of money required to reach the next stage of our development," Karp said. "This was a difficult decision for us, but the financial reality of the situation demanded that we suspend further publication immediately, and indefinitely."

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Author:Fitzgerald, Mark
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 7, 2009
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