Printcasting is mentioned in a BusinessWeek story about “online experiments that could help newspapers”. The story leads with Bakotopia.com, the social networking site I started for The Bakersfield Californian back in 2005. This is fitting, as Bakotopia’s later success with a printed magazine helped inspired the Printcasting concept. The story also cites other good examples of things newspaper companies are doing to change with the times, including collaboration with Outside.in and Yahoo and the upcoming Plastic Logic e-reader.

This is great timing for us, as we recently opened our beta site to the public and are putting the final pieces in place to publicly launch in Bakersfield later this month. Here are some excerpts worth mentioning:

“… the independent, family-owned Californian is preparing to take the idea of Web-created niche magazines national. Using an $837,000 grant from the Knight News Challenge and about $200,000 of its own money, it’s launching a site called Printcasting.com later in March. The site will allow individuals, schools, homeowners’ associations, wine clubs, and the like to create their own digital magazines. ‘If we see a magazine that really has potential, we’ll print it, place additional ads in there, and distribute it, [first in Bakersfield, then in five other cities as early as this summer],’ Pacheco says. The Californian will get a cut of ad sales while spending little on the product itself. ‘This is cheap and targeted,’ Pacheco explains. ‘Even though there’s an ad recession, it doesn’t mean there’re no more ads.’ “

And later on …

“This reinvention is taking publishers such as Bakersfield Californian away from selling ads just for their own news content. ‘Our future may be very different from how we started, in newspapers,’ Pacheco says. ‘[Going forward], we are the network that allows people to communicate among themselves.’”

That accurately sums up what we’re trying to do with Printcasting. Thanks to senior writer Olga Kharif for good reporting.

Of course the real story will begin once we launch later this month and are able to point to how regular old people are using Printcasting to make their own magazines and newsletters. Our local outreach is already starting in beta, and I can tell that what people do with these tools will ultimately be far more interesting than the tools themselves. The same has been true of Bakotopia and other social-media initiatives — connecting with people and allowing them to connect with each other is what the user-generated content space is really about.

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