Voice of San Diego launches on-demand magazine with Knight grant

Knight Foundation | VoiceofSanDiego.org | CJR
The Knight Foundation is giving VoiceofSanDiego.org $186,000 to build a membership program called “Raise Your Voice“ and to publish a print and digital magazine.

VoiceofSanDiego.org will publish Voice of San Diego Monthly using MagCloud, which offers on-demand publication of print and digital magazines (including iPad editions). The magazine is free to Voice of San Diego members who give $501 or more a year; others can buy it in print for $7.99 or in digital form for $2.99.

CEO Scott Lewis writes that the magazine will give its stories a longer shelf life:

We already have the content. Tons of content. We put several stories out every day. Some longer and more in-depth than others. When we gather them all up over the course of a month, we have reason to be proud.

At the same time, not everyone can keep up with the daily chaos of news, let alone read some of our longer pieces.

So, when I discovered MagCloud, I got an idea and couldn’t shake it. Rather than let our stories sit on some virtual shelf, why not offer the chance for people to catch up?

Lewis writes that continued publication of the magazine will depend on whether enough members, sponsors and buyers express interest. Eventually, the magazine will contain member updates and other news about VoiceofSanDiego.org.

Meanwhile, CJR’s Michael Meyer has a mixed reaction to the Ford Foundation’s $1 million grant to the Los Angeles Times to fund reporting of underserved beats. One could argue that foundations “should have stepped in to incentivize publishers to cover these issues decades ago,” he writes. But there’s a risk that such grants will encourage newspapers to pull back from the least profitable types of journalism.

The worst case scenario is that the Sam Zells of the world … will take grant-funded coverage as a further excuse to slash every part of their newspapers that isn’t either profitable or subsidized. The LAT, after all, is the paper at which former publisher Mark Willes came up with the idea that each section of the paper (whether sports or books or foreign coverage) would have its own publisher responsible for making his or her section profitable on its own terms. The idea was never implemented, but what’s to stop it from happening in the future? Will publishers take the opportunity to make money where they can and outsource public interest journalism to the nonprofit sector (and, by extension, public donors and the IRS rules that encourage giving at the expense of the US Treasury)?

Earlier: Reuters considers magazine after producing issue for Davos (Poynter) | Google releases “Think Quarterly” magazine (journalism.co.uk)

Disclosure: The Poynter Institute is currently a Ford Foundation grantee.

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