Monday, April 14

NOW shuts down...the Boston NOW, that is

Just about a year ago, the Boston NOW, a free community daily newspaper in Beantown, started publishing. The paper was supposed to heavily rely on the Web and reader/blogger interaction for story generation. At the time of its launch, the publishers -- Icelandic media company Dagsbrun -- said they planned to spread the model across the U.S. as an alternative press venue competing with big-city dailies.

From NPR in April 2007:
...bloggers will not only get an outlet for their musings, they'll also break news.

[Editor in Chief John] Wilpers says he'll help bloggers tailor their postings for a general audience. At first, he expects only about 10 percent of the newspaper's content to come from Web contributors. But eventually, half the paper could be filled by all the Boston blogs fit to print, he says.

Dagsbrun announced plans in April 2007 for ten more NOW papers in major cities within three years, but that hasn't begun to happen. (The Fort Collins Now, which also was (re)born in 2007, after a brief name tussle, has no Icelandic associations we know of.) And now Dagsbrun's dream may be over, thanks to Iceland's currency being even more unstable than the dollar.

From the Boston NOW website:
This healthy, growing 119,000-circulation daily is suddenly compelled to halt operations due to rapidly deteriorating economic conditions in Iceland where interest rates reached 15.5% Thursday, the krona, their currency, has declined over 20% against the dollar since January, and inflation is now at 8.7%.

“The death of any newspaper is a sad thing,” stated CEO Russel Pergament, “but the death of a vibrant, flourishing newspaper because of economic turmoil thousands of miles away is beyond sad and is something we never anticipated and for which we were totally unprepared.”
The publisher claims the paper was actually following its business model and hitting its targets, and its circulation had nearly doubled in a year. So I'm not quite sure whether the lesson here is about the survivability of free papers or blogger-driven papers, or the pitfalls of foreign investment in "local" periodicals.

1 comment:

ZAF622 said...

Did someone tell Google about this? I am sure they would have bought the paper.

It is sad it did not get to run its course though. The blog to print idea is interesting. I wonder if they had little blank boxes under the articles that the reader could write comments in and then cut out and put in an envelope, stamp, and drop in a mail box so the writer would know what the reader is thinking?