An old-fashioned trade publication for bloggers? Seriously?
The new Blogger & Podcaster magazine - "for aspiring new media titans" - has met with a tepid response from a lot of those titans. Some were sure it was a prank, while others laughed at the idea of reaching bloggers with a print publication.
But the magazine is for real and, so far, immune to the irony of its own existence.
Publisher Larry Genkin explained his decision for charging $79 a year for a subscription to a magazine whose core readership would most likely prefer the free online version.
"I made the decision to charge for the print subscription to allow as many people as possible to have access to the magazine," Genkin wrote. "If we would have given the print edition away for free, like many trade publishers do, we would have had to cap circulation at around 10,000 before our printing and mailing costs would force us to have to charge advertising rates that would be too steep for what the industry can afford at this time."
But to be fair, the concept of a blogging trade publication isn't as crazy as some have made it out to be. Blogging is maturing and becoming more mainstream by the day, and for those new to the medium or those looking to take their blogs to new heights, a publication that covers the latest innovations, ideas and issues could be of great value. (Though you could argue that dozens of sites are already doing this to one degree or another. See: Slashdot, Valleywag or CNet's News Blog for starters.)
Blogger & Podcaster has shown it has some early potential. The most recent issue included tutorials on podcasting, interviews with "industry experts," strategies for making money and an interesting story (albeit with an unflattering cover photo) on blogging and tech giant Robert Scoble - all interesting and useful information to a lot of bloggers. But the uphill battle ahead appears especially steep.
In a recent blog post titled "What Bloggers Should Learn from the Pulitzers," the magazine's managing editor, Shelly Brisbin, explored the well-worn argument that blogs will somehow save the old media from itself.
"The problem with 'old media' newspapers is not the content itself, it is the inability to continue to prosper in a marketplace that has moved on," Brisbin wrote. "Blogging is a more democratic, more diverse medium for many readers, and newspapers who have not figured that out are suffering financially. But as blogging flexes its muscles, and as its leaders sneer derisively at newspapers, its practitioners and champions should also ask themselves how the infrastructure of blogging can be strengthened to provide the support needed for investigative journalism of the kind still practiced primarily by newspapers. When this happens, there will and should be a Pulitzer category (or more than one) for blogs and other new media outlets."
The lone commenter on the post went a little off topic: "This magazine is an embarrassment. STOP."
New media titan Jason Kottke was no more kind.
"I'm still recovering from the shock upon learning last week that Blogger & Podcaster magazine is in fact real," he wrote recently. "I thought it was a not-so-clever parody."
Over on Gawker, commenters blasted everything from the design - "Looks like they stole that font from Quilter & Needleworker" -to the magazine's concept - "Exactly the kind of forward-thinking, Web-optimized content that cements New Media's prowess. Well played, duck-shaped, pasty cover guy."
That "more democratic, more diverse" crowd can be tough.