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Citizen Reporters Turn to Print for Delivery
Online news providers Wikinews and OhmyNews both offer hard copy versions
William Pollard (will789)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2005-07-11 11:56 (KST)   
One of the surprises at the OhmyNews International Citizen Reporters' Forum held in Seoul late last month was the revelation by Erik Möller that Wikinews is publishing a daily print edition of its content.

©2005 Wikinews
A PDF file is available for download, and it is claimed that several university sites are now printing short runs for free distribution. On the Web site inviting comments, it is recorded that user "Borofkin" distributed seven copies at the University of New South Wales on May 15. "Hey, it's a start. I was going to do 10, but my copycard ran out."

The Wikinews community experiments freely with new and old formats. "We are the new media. We make our own rules," Möller explained. Indeed, citizen media online are turning to the printed word in order to reach audiences beyond the Internet.

Another surprise was that there is a 16-page hard copy version of OhmyNews with one page in English from the international version which is distributed all over Seoul and South Korea. This, too, is offered online as a PDF download.

Previously discussion about online journalism has suggested it might replace print completely. However it seems that even news operations that start online discover that print has a place.

©2005 OMN
The OhmyNews publication is intended to let more people know about the Web site. Although it is free some people make donations. Jean K. Min from OhmyNews explained, "There are unique merits of print offering of news such as bold graphics and liberty of headline writing. We can also reach older generation who still find print news more familiar to them. For them our weekly print edition makes sense in that we can entice them to our Web site."

The PDF version of Wikinews is created using Open Office, an open source approach to "productivity" software.

The PDF creation works very well. Previously this function required a full copy of Acrobat as well as Microsoft Office. Wikinews is part of the open source discussion, based on making software easy for people to access.

They are using PDF as a publishing format. The "collaboration" features in Acrobat are not widely used as they require the full software for best effect. The Wikipedia approach has demonstrated that collaboration is easier when copy exists as text. There may be something about PDF as a format that suggests the text is fixed and beyond comment.

The PDF version was only one development mentioned by Eric Möller. There is also a sound version using the Ogg Vorbis format. Some people may need to find a way to listen to this. MP3 is not open source, however people think about it. Of course there is full information about Ogg Vorbis on the pages of the Wikipedia.

There are also plans for video downloads and streaming media but these are not that advanced at the moment. There may be experiments that you can find if you follow the Web site closely.

Other news organizations may arrive at the same situation from another direction. Penelope Muse Abernathy recently told Raymond Snoddy for the UK magazine Marketing (29 June) that she is very optimistic about the future of newspapers, adding "it all depends on how you define a newspaper."

The Wall Street Journal has a circulation of 2.1 million -- 731,000 of it online. In October they will launch compact editions in Asia and Europe with an offer for advertisers to integrate the print and online campaigns. Designer Mario Garcia claims that "IT has turned us all into multimedia users: we navigate from one medium to the next and 80 percent of us use up to two media simultaneously."

In the UK a gap seems to be opening up between magazine production and the traditional print industry. An editorial by Jonathan Levy in Print Media Management (July) suggests that "vision in print" is not enough "with the rise of JDF and end-to-end digital workflows." Perhaps "vision in print media" implies a wider range of media than most of the print industry currently offers.

A PDF of the presentation on Wikinews is available through OhmyNews.
You can read more on the printing industry at Will Pollard's blog:Ipex2004.
©2005 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

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