Are interactive newspapers the next big thing?

December 2, 2009

With the announcement that London will see the release of a new, weekly free paper in February of next year, it has now been made clear that up to 30% of this paper’s content will come from readers.

Adding to this, I have just discovered the very good TheBlogPaper. This corker of a website is there to focus reader content into a printed paper, available free every month in London.

So is reader content and web integration the way forward for newspapers? Will either of these two titles succeed in the long term? Time will tell. I know for a fact that one of England’s largest magazine publishers looked into a digital magazine mostly created with user content, but then binned the idea before it even started…

The London Weekly seems to be focussing on the same content as the London Lite and the London Paper, and by that I mean shite. A brief look at news and politics whilst the main focus will be on Paris Hilton’s underwear and Jordan’s amazing lack of talent.

My first thought is, do people still want this level of crap? If so what will the reader input consist of? Will it be webpage style comments at the end of articles? Or maybe vox pops style box outs. Maybe readers will be contributing entire articles or photo lead spreads? Or will it just be “Hannah, age 24, Receptionist. Today I’m wearing a Top Shop coat that cost me £35…blah blah blah”.

Where will their TV channel and website come into play? And most importantly will they continue to dumb down British papers with z-grade celebrity gossip or will they try and make a new and exciting medium and a subsequent possible new direction for print publishers?

The Blog Paper on the other hand seems to have hit the ground running. It’s a simple and great idea, and like all great ideas; even if it isn’t financially successful the people involved can be proud that they tried something unique. Something that will be copied by others.

So how does it work? Simple; registered users (free) to their website submit articles and / or photos that are then rated by other website members. The highest rated articles get put into a monthly print paper that is distributed for free around London. Simple as that.

There is no Editor (I like that idea!) and only the highest rated articles go to print ensuring a high standard of editorial. Best of all there isn’t a picture of Katie Price’s boobs anywhere in sight.

The only possible downside to this would be that it’s not a current affairs paper, in fact it’s much more of a lifestyle magazine. But I only see that as a good thing, we don’t need more shite papers. What we need is more reader orientated and opinionated publications like TheBlogPaper.

The next print is due on December the 18th so keep your eyes peeled and give these peeps all the support you can, they deserve some recognition!