Is there a place today for alternative media start ups in print?

A group of locals have gathered together to create a new alternative newspaper called Random Times. Good title, at least.

But is it necessary?

If your goal is to get published, or to publish view points you don’t see represented in the mainstream media, then the time and expense of a new print publication hardly seem worth it. Ironically, the local MSM, primarily via The Bakersfield Californian, offers numerous outlets for writers. Sure, none of these publishing vehicles pay, but some of them can lead to a byline in print and before a larger audience than a small, start-up tabloid is going to reach.

TBC offers Your Words on, Bakotopia, the Voices and Mas. While I can’t officially speak to the editorial policies of these publications, or make any promises, I’m pretty damn confident that alternative view points, if well presented and aren’t profane, can find an airing in these outlets.

And if your goal is to present alternative view points, would you rather preach to the choir of coffee shop and indie record store patrons or reach a more mainstream audience where you might actually be ale to have some influence. Only MSM can give you reach into suburban households.

If your goal is to make money, forget it. The last people to get rich off alt-dead-tree publications were 1960s college kids. They’ve made their millions and retired. Print is dying. Online is where it’s at. In fact, if you want to hit the local MSM where it hurts, disrupt them online. Print means nothing.

I’m the last person in the world who wants to encourage further use of TBC products, but I’m just trying to apply some common sense here. I just don’t see the benefit of starting a new alternative print product. If I’m wrong, great for the guys doing it. I know it’s a lot of work to put out a newspaper, so while I disagree with the approach, I say good luck to the Random Times crew.

BTW: What I can see of it from Nick’s post (check the YouTube video at the bottom), it looks well done. I need to find me a copy. I am curious about it.

[dels]print, newspaper, alternative press, media[/dels]

9 thoughts on “Is there a place today for alternative media start ups in print?

  1. I like your thoughts here Howard. I too wonder about print media or any independent anything that has a brick and mortar shop. All this talk about Random Times and I haven’t been to any of their outlets to check them out. The online word is much faster, cheaper, easier and instant. All this hubbub has been good for RT’s…because it has peeked some interest, but to sustain that interest enough for me to get out of my house and pick up a paper regularly, I don’t know.

    Blogging, Vlogging….we are all the media is where the preacher and the choir will really sell their beliefs to more than the Californian’s big dog readership of 250,000…

  2. Maybe the ire of the Random Times is simply meant to gain bad press, which for them is good press, right? Carefully orchestrated and as entertaining as a fistfight outside a 7-11.

    Great wisdom… though maybe you just like their title because any title is better than The Elitist Press

  3. I thought you took an intelligent approach to examining the release of our paper, the Random Times, so I think it deserves a fair comment.

    First off– why print media?

    Because, man… I thought it would be fun. I’ve ALWAYS thought it would be fun.

    And the reason really is that simple.

    I’m not trying to change the world with Random Times. I’m not trying to win a pulitzer.

    I wanted to have fun, and let other people have fun with me by sending articles in.

    Print media is dying, that is true.

    People could make the same arguments for art forms like straight animation and computer animation, or straight photography and digital photography.

    Computer animation might look amazing, but it certainly has a different type of character than the old-fashioned style… a certain kind of essence that cannot be digitally replicated. The old styles will never truly die. And that’s just the way it is. Sorry, man… but that’s the truth.

    I look at free press print the same way.

    The Random Times isn’t trying to be the next New York Times, and I would never want to be known as any sort of media mogul… EVER.

    If I were wanting to one day be rich off of any of this, I’d be taking an entirely different approach… probably an approach that heavily involves the internet.

    This is supposed to be fun, Howard… I mean, I have a day job. This is basically a kind of new hobby. Not a career.

    Why do people work on old cars… when cars THESE DAYS have more efficient engines? Because they have more character– that’s why.

    This is about fun.

    If we ever have the money to go to the net, and are able to build a site that actually looks nice, then we’ll do it. So long as it’s still FUN.

    This whole shit-flinging thing with NL– that’s not fun.

    But I knew it was coming, because that’s who Nick is– that’s what he does. He has perfected the art.

    If you’ll notice… in his actual words… he didn’t even write anything particularly bad. But see, that’s where his powers of manipulation come in.

    I’m the one who created a tiny ball of shit.

    And with a little flick of his wrist– bolding a word or two of mine here and there– all he essentially did was pluck my tiny ball of shit, place it at the top of a mountain… and sit back smiling, fully aware that it would soon be a giant pile of shit, and would hit a giant fan.

    Mission accomplished. That old Nick Belardes… he sure is controversial! But one day, he will realize that sometimes controversial = asshole.

    But as for you, you also made a further comment about me that had a bit of a nasty tone to it, but I’ll do you the favor of responding to it respectfully.

    You asked how I could not assume that my myspace bulletin would not be taken elsewhere and made more public on the net.

    The answer to that is… I didn’t really expect anyone to take it so seriously.

    It’s not like I labored over that paragraph and tried to meticulously capture the essence of the anger I was feeling in my soul or anything.

    I was frustrated.

    We worked our asses of on our primitive paper, and we sent out press releases to almost everyone… and the only responses we got were from Meathead and Rocky Nash on KRAB (they scheduled an interview), and Matt on Bakotopia. And that’s it. I got frustrated. People will have to forgive me if I actually show something other than a robotic emotion somewhere in something I write. Would I do it over if I had the chance?

    Well, probably… considering people have taken it this seriously.

    I’m being called all these names by people who don’t even know me, and I’m not lashing out with anger at anyone other than Nick.

    But I guess that’s just the kind of stuff I’m going to have to get used to. Gotta grow some thicker skin, and let more stuff roll off of it.

    But all in good time.

    Thanks man.

    James Mongold

  4. James, great response.

    There is one reason I can never argue with: Because it’s fun. There isn’t a better reason in the world to do anything, and if you can do something because its fun and get away with it (meaning, you don’t lose your job, go to jail, fail to feed the kids, not meet other obligations, etc.), then that’s great. There is no reason not to publish a paper just as a hobby.

    As for my comments on Nick’s blog, I did not intend anything personal against you. I honestly did not understand where you were coming from. The idea of doing it for fun, so obvious now, didn’t even cross my mind. I was approaching the topic with a basic philosophical difference from where I ASSUMED you were coming from. My mistake.

    I know publishing a paper is a lot of work. I do hope you have fun doing it and are able to sustain it for as long as it is fun.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Nick. He’s going to write what he’s going to write and you need to do what you’re going to do.

  5. Aren’t all newspapers controversial in the sense that not everyone is going to agree with every article and topic presented? Isn’t the Random Times trying to be controversial with their rants and aggressive stance against Bakersfield media? I don’t think I’m an asshole for reporting the news. But I think James Mongold needs to understand that newspapers are not old cars. Any journalist working for a newspaper should take offense to such a remark.

  6. I totally disagree with your “print is dead” theory. I’m doing a hybrid print newsletter with an online website that is very profitable and giving people a local voice. How many banner ads do you have to sell to make a website profitable? Short answer: a lot. How many ads do you need to sell in a print publication to pay for the printing ‘and’ the website? Short answer: a lot less. I have a bias coming from the print publishing industry for years and also doing a lot of online consulting and a dot com start-up. But I can attest to this: print + web = profit.

  7. Let’s put it another way: Print is deadman walking.

    It makes money now, but it won’t at some point.

    Banner ads aren’t the only way to make money online. And newspapers need to figure out how to make money online, or die.

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