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The Journalism Biz


Print is (not) dead: California Sunday wants to save the newsmagazine

September 29, 2014

By Anderson Boyd

California Sunday Magazine header

Critics and naysayers have heralded the end of print media for years. Newspaper revenue has fallen across the board, and the once-ubiquitous Sunday newsmagazine, like Parade and USA Today Magazine, are now shells of their former selves. But don’t tell that to the creators of The California Sunday Magazine.

Set to debut at the beginning of October, California Sunday is a new magazine created by journalist Douglas McGray and Internet entrepreneur Chas Edwards. It will be published as an app available on iOS, Android and Kindle, as well as a Sunday insert in the three largest California newspapers: the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Sacramento Bee.

According to Fast Company, this distribution model allows California Sunday to start out with a circulation of 400,000 from day one, making the print magazine scalable and allowing it to sell both print and interactive digital ads. International Business Times reports that the magazine will launch with 10 advertisers, including Google Play, Lexus, Converse, MailChimp and the Ace Hotel.

“We are using ZIP codes to locate readers that are most similar to fans that show up at our Pop-Up Magazine live events: men and women between 25-49 who work in creative industries, are heavy consumers of premium media, are early adopters of Apple products, and who do more international travel than average,” Edwards said in an email to International Business Times.

McGray said in an interview with Recode that the content he and Edwards create is meant for what he calls “leisure” time — weekends for California Sunday and nights for Pop-Up Magazine, a series of events McGray created in 2009 that gathers writers and producers to perform a “magazine” for a live audience.

“The whole point is there should not be tension between print and digital,” McGray said to Recode. “I am an enthusiast [of digital], actually. I read a ton on my phone and wanted to think about producing content with that in mind.”

According to the magazine’s website, California Sunday and Pop-Up Magazine will “work together to produce unforgettable reported storytelling from the West Coast, for your nights and weekends” and “bring you original stories, photography, and more from across California, the West, Asia, and Latin America.”

California Sunday has already started hiring staff, attracting professionals like design lead Leo Jung, who worked at Wired and The New York Times Magazine, and editors Nicole Allan of The Atlantic and Kit Rachlis, former editor-in-chief of Los Angeles Magazine and LA Weekly.

But will California Sunday be successful as both a publication and a startup business model?

“It all depends on getting the advertisers,” media analyst Ken Doctor said to KPCC, Southern California’s public radio affiliate. “If they’ve lined up 10 advertisers for a year’s commitment, it could work.”

McGray, a former editor at Foreign Policy magazine and contributor to Wired and the New Yorker, isn’t worried about failure, since he has good company among other journalists founding startup media ventures. According to Fast Company, Alex Blumberg, a former producer for NPR’s This American Life, is creating a new podcast company called StartUp, and Jessica Lessin, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, founded a site called The Information that charges readers $399 per year, slightly more than the WSJ charges for its digital and print subscriptions.

"The idea of going to work for one media company for 10 years or 20 years or longer, it’s not the sure career path it might have been a decade ago," McGray said to Fast Company. "You have to be entrepreneurial anyway. You’re already thinking about, how you can build an interesting career and do good work. It’s not a huge of a leap to think that part of that might actually be building something new.”

Can music save newspaper subscriptions?

April 24, 2014

Anthony Guerra

Can a new strategy make online subscriptions more appealing? Well, that’s what two companies are trying to create by offering a new type of digital subscription.

In early February, The Times of London (owned by News UK) and music streaming giant Spotify formed a partnership that gives subscribers the option to combine music and news for a weekly price.  In order to receive the music subscription, potential customers need to purchase a premium subscription to the Times.  After buying the subscription, the customer would have the chance to add the Spotify-Premium to their news subscription. 

Subscribers would pay around £6 or $10 per-week for the news and music subscription.  The premium subscription only gives subscribers access to Spoitfy Premium for one year.  After the one-year period, the subscriber then pays an additional fee if they want to keep the subscription. Customers still have to option to only subscribe to the online news platform and not add the Spotify membership.

What is new about this partnership is that The Times of London, a traditional newspaper, is teaming up with Spotify a company that offers completely different content.  This would be similar if iTunes teamed up with The New York Times to offer new content.

A New Way to Create your Own Newspaper?

Anthony Guerra

In the new age of digital news, Facebook is trying to give readers the power to build their own newspapers.    

On Feb. 3, Facebook launched its new application “Paper,” a news-reading app that allows readers to pick preferred topics to their likings, with the application then displaying articles, pictures or videos that match those interests.  “Paper” provides readers with news stories from major news publications such as The New York Times or The Huffington Post as well as other less-popular news sources.  

The new application is the first released by Facebook Creative Labs, an effort by Facebook to give employees a chance to develop new products, a practice that is common in a start-up company.  According to Facebook, the lab is designed to develop, “new apps to support the diverse ways people want to connect and share.”  Other companies, such as Google, have similar divisions for product development.

University aims to revolutionize journalism through Google Glass course

April 22, 2014

By Jonathan Espinoza

The world’s first Google Glass journalism course is set to start in August at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Dubbed “Glass Journalism,” the course will host about a dozen students and already has a comprehensive syllabus, which describes the class as a “sandbox of journalism, technology, and creativity.”

The aim of the course is to integrate Google Glass into the process of newsgathering and reporting. Students will be required use Google Glass to “explore and experiment” with new applications for the device within a journalistic context.

Vox.com in its infancy

April 16, 2014

By ChinLin Pan

Vox Media, an online publisher for the sports blogs SB Nation, technology news site The Verge, and video gaming site Polygon, launched its news site Vox.com on April 6. Jim Bankoff, CEO and chairman of Vox Media, spoke at the 15th International Symposium on Online Journalism on April 4 about the media company’s goals with Vox.com and about the evolution of online media.

Behind the conception of Vox.com are Ezra Klein, former Washington Post blogger and columnist, and executive editors Melissa Bell and Matt Yglesias.

Vox.com is not just another source of information to the public. According to USA Today, Klein and Vox Media released details on their plans for Vox.com last month, “promising readers news stories packaged with contextual information and graphics” so readers can better digest news.

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