Fri, 01 Jun 07

An open letter to my local newspapers

I just sent this email to the editors of four local papers.


I’m emailing you as representatives of (what I believe to be) the four main newspapers in Thanet.

  • KM Extra
  • Thanet Adscene
  • Isle of Thanet Gazette
  • Thanet Times

On the off chance you’re already bored or have filed me to spam (please don’t), a quick summary is that I’m offering to do some work, for free, that might help foster discussion around your newspaper content.

I’d love it if all of your newspaper content was on-line. I realise that both and already exist and carry some of the content from your papers. I also realise that it may not be commercially wise to publish all newspaper content on-line.

So, I’ve come up with a very cunning (it’s not that cunning) plan. I’m thinking of creating a blog-type site, where each post will represent a newspaper story. I propose that the title of the blog post will be the title of the article in the paper, and that the body of the blog post will be left blank. My intention is that people that buy/receive any of the above papers can use the permalink of the blog post as a central discussion point. They can either comment right there on the blog or they can ping/trackback to the post from their own blogs. The best thing that could happen is that other people stumble across these conversations and want to get involved, at which point they have to go buy a copy of the paper to get the original content.

I’m planning on doing this stuff anyway, but I wanted to give you guys a heads up. I figure that this mail will either a) land in spamland, b) be received with a negative response, or c) be received with a positive response. Oh, or d) received and ignored. Pretty much covered all bases there haven’t I? Anyhoo, I’d love to hear any thoughts you have, especially if they are strongly for or against the idea.

This letter will be posted to my blog[1] shortly. On the off chance you’ve read this far and feel like replying, I’d like to post them to my blog too, but that’s completely up to you.

To summarize.

  • I’d like to converse with other people that have read the same article that I have.
  • The only content from your newspapers that will appear on-line is the heading of each article.
  • I’m offering to do all the work.
  • I’ll host the site and transcribe each article from each of the four weekly papers.
  • The site won’t have advertising.
  • Anyone can comment on the site.
  • Anyone can trackback/pingback to the site.
  • I can’t promise that I’ll keep up the work forever.
  • All the content of the site will be available to anyone that wants it - probably under a creative commons license or something similar.
  • I have no intention of making money from this. In fact, I’m willing to pay money to make it happen.