January 25, 2009

Melding Media: The Courtship of Blogs and Newspapers

Image credit: A pleasant surprise by Jeremy Leslie, magCulture

Designers Ben Terrett and Russell Davies of Really Interesting Group published a limited quantity of Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet 2008. They heightened this select publication’s originality by taking advantage of a newspaper printer’s inherent capacity to only do a short run. The result is a one-of-a-kind tabloid newsprint collection featuring their favorite posts from 23 friends’ blogs. The newspaper is an open format, refreshingly oriented to embrace online content in an off-line manner. Even Tweets are cleverly incorporated. In his blog posting, Ben noted: “The printer requires each page to have a folio so I added a keyline and some of our favourite Tweets from the year.”

Image credit: Ben Terrett, Noisy Decent Graphics

Another winsome detail is the preservation of errors found in the blog postings. Again, from Ben: “We didn’t edit any posts at all. So they’re full of typos and a lot of the columns end in strange places. This is an odd phenomenon. In a real publication, the Sub Editor would shout for a few less (or more) words to make it fit just right. No sub editing here.”

Transferring the raw content, along with its “imperfections” and idiosyncrasies, from its blogging source to the newsprint medium testifies to the publication’s integrity—like the newsprint gesture of “;)” in this New York Times transcript of Abraham Lincoln’s speech in 1862. Whether it’s scrutinized as a mistake or a harbinger of an emoticon, the transcript transcends in print:

Image credit: Is That an Emoticon in 1862? by Jennifer 8. Lee, The New York Times

Ben’s and Russell’s experiment proves a successful meld of “new media” meeting “old media” or vice versa, where there’s no eclipse of one medium over another. The endurance of paper and the newspaper mode are highlighted as mainstays of the reading experience.

With respect to the writing experience and its relationship to the newspaper format, entrepreneur Joshua Karp founded and funded The Printed Blog. Karp’s startup is launching a twice-daily free print newspaper in cities across the country, aggregating localized blog posts. “User-generated content” is given another iteration in Joshua’s off-screen effort.

Blogs are making newspapers less obsolete, while newspapers are making blogs more versatile. Understanding Comics author Scott McCloud said, “Media provides us with a window to go back into our world.” If media is pictured as a big sandbox, blogs and newspapers are windows to each other, reflecting each other’s best interests and multiplying their reach with mutable content.