by Rob Wicker
CNN has a news show that comes on every Sunday morning called Reliable Sources. The show is hosted by Howard Kurtz and reports on and analyzes developments in the media. This Sunday Reliable Sources reported on, among other things, Hugh Heffner and his desire to buy back a controlling interest in Playboy.
There was another story, however, that I found more interesting than Hef. It was about a blogger based in Los Angeles named Eric Richardson. According to Richardson, downtown LA has gone through a revival and the area now features cutting-edge fashion, shops, bars and restaurants. Richardson writes a blog about the LA revival called Blogdowntown.com.
Richardson has been writing online about the goings on in LA for the past five and a half years, apparently with great success. Guess how Richardson now plans to extend his blog? That’s right, PRINT. Richardson is starting a newspaper. The key to Richardson’s decision is that his newspaper, like his blog, is extremely focused. I thought that Richardson, who looks to be in his late twenties, did a great job on Reliable Sources of articulating why print is important to his advertisers. Here’s an excerpt from the interview between Kurtz and Richardson:
KURTZ: OK. And now you’ve gone to paper. You just handed this to me… the “Blog Downtown Weekly.” I thought everything was going digital these days. You seem to be going backwards. Why start a newspaper?
RICHARDSON: You know, it’s amazing, the power that you can get out of just having something sitting in a shop, somebody walks in, they’re grabbing their coffee, they don’t know what they’re looking for, and you catch their eye and they pick it up. And that’s something that we’re never going to be able to reach online. And so for us, the ability to reach people who don’t know they’re looking for us is something that print can do that we can’t do any other way.
KURTZ: Well, I love print. You write in your publisher’s letter, “There’s something uniquely powerful about a newspaper that’s sitting at the cafe just waiting to catch your eye” I guess you just kind of told me that. And “This is an effort to reach people who might not find you online.”
KURTZ: But now you have costs. You have to publish this, you have to distribute it.
RICHARDSON: Oh, exactly.
KURTZ: That sounds like a pretty tall order these days.
RICHARDSON: You know, at the same time, it’s amazing, the value that people place on the print medium in terms of our advertisers. As we go out to businesses around downtown, they love that same idea. They want to be in the cafe. And so the value that we’re able to offer them is really an upgrade over what we’re able to do.
As Richardson states, it’s hard to get found online. I think that Richardson’s newspaper will be successful because it is focused on a specific subject: downtown LA. I also think that because of enhanced exposure to his brand, the traffic to his blog will escalate.