How to start a local newspaper

Helping local newspapers get off the ground is something that we’ve always hoped would happen at Newspaper Club, so it’s great to see The Bedford Clanger, a newspaper designed to blow the cobwebs from local news in the Bedford area, come to life. The editor, Erica Roffe, told us how and why she got it started.

The Bedford Clanger masthead

It’s very easy to become negative about your town, especially when the local newspapers seem to report only bad news. That’s why we started The Bedford Clanger.

The Clanger is a community newspaper dedicated to promoting the music, art, culture, people, places, independent shops, bars, pubs and restaurants that make Bedford such a great place to live.

With Sunday supplements, the Guardian Guide and Time Out as our inspiration, we set about creating a format that would work for us. We chose a traditional newspaper layout as it suited our content, but we have attempted to contemporise it by using creative photography or illustration to accompany each article.

We chose Newspaper Club to print the Clanger as the price, convenience and speedy delivery ticked all our boxes. Our contact, Anne, has been a huge source of knowledge and reassurance throughout the process – we really couldn’t have done it without her!

The launch of The Clanger took place over the first weekend in June and the response has been phenomenal. Through various recent events and initiatives, a community spirit has been awakened in our town, and The Clanger hopes to capture this feeling and share the joy.

The Bedford Clanger has been totally funded by advertising, but we have restricted this to ‘enhanced listings’ featuring a logo, website and contact details and just 20 words of text. The advertising only features on the listings pages, so doesn’t detract from the editorial content. The result is much more modern and visually striking than other local paper display advertising and as a result we have received ad revenue from businesses that traditionally don’t use print as an advertising medium.

We hope that through the support of local businesses we can maintain The Clanger as a monthly guide to Bedford. The layout and design are by no means perfect and they will develop as we learn more about the medium.

With the third issue on the presses as we speak look out for FREE copies of The Bedford Clanger in independent shops, hair salons, businesses, bars, clubs, pubs, coffee shops, libraries, The Corn Exchange and Bedford Tourist Information Centre. Limited availability, so grab yours while stocks last!!

Posted by Anne | Comments (2)

Filed under: Newspaper Stories

Great Gran by Toby Morris

Great Gran by Toby Morris is a lovely example of what people are doing with the new digital colour newspapers.

Toby, an illustrator based in Amsterdam, used the newspaper format to pay tribute to the remarkable life of his great gran. It looks beautiful and manages to raise a smile and bring a tear to the eye at the same time.

Printed in digital colour, it was produced as a limited run of 100. Copies are available from Toby’s online shop.

Posted by Anne | Comments Off

Filed under: Newspaper Stories

The Hoxton A.M.

You may have heard of Ministry of Stories, a charitable organisation that helps young people write their own stories. Based on Dave Eggers 826 Valencia and with his blessing and the support of others such as Nick Hornby they opened up in Hackney last year.

A few weeks ago they made a newspaper with a bunch of aforementioned young people. And not only that, we are eternally in their debt because they made this super video about their newspaper. That’s the kind of blogtastic social link love we really appreciate here at Newspaper Club.

Watch the video below. It’s ace.

Posted by Ben | Comments (1)

Filed under: case studies

Alpha Release of the Newspaper Club API

Day 13

Much of our inspiration for starting Newspaper Club is down to Aaron Straup-Cope, and his Papernet projects. Aaron’s thoughts on how paper and printed media can be a natural part of the web and the “network” encouraged us to play around, led to experiments with newspapers, and lo: Newspaper Club was born.

A lot of what we do at Newspaper Club is about making it easy as possible to access newsprint: to lower the barrier of entry and let people make whatever they want. We’ve built ARTHR, our layout tool, we’ve written lots of help pages, and we try and be helpful on email and the phone, all to try and make it as easy as possible.

But we want to make it easier for machines too. Because why should humans have all the fun? Machines should be able to make good looking newspapers too.

So, today we’re launching the alpha release of the Newspaper Club API. The API provides programatic access to ARTHR, letting you write tools and apps that generate newspapers from any content you have.

We’ve written some API documentation which should help you along the way. We know it needs fleshing out in places, but if you’ve got any suggestions for what we’re not explaining very well, please let us know.

As a demonstration, we’ve built a tool nicknamed The Telepaper, that turns a Readability Reading List into a newspaper with just a couple of clicks.

As luck and timing would have it, The Engineering Dept. entered this in Readability’s API contest and are very pleased that it won third place! Hurrah! (Thank you Readability folks.)

The Telepaper is a very simple Ruby Sinatra application that glues the Newspaper Club and Readability APIs together. All the source code is available on the Newspaper Club Github account, and you can try the application for yourself if you’ve got a Readability account.

If you’d like to have a go with the API yourself, you’ll need an API key from us. First take a look at the documentation, then drop us an email containing your Newspaper Club account’s email address, an OAuth callback URL, and a brief description of whatever you’re playing around with, if you know. We’ll have a web interface for this as we tidy things up and enter the beta stage.

We’ll be honest: this is going to be a bit of a learning curve for us. Running an API is hard. And mapping the concepts of print layout to an API is hard. So it’s likely that we won’t have got it right first time. Do let us know your thoughts.

Posted by Tom | Comments Off

Filed under: engineering, news