The Flying Pickle Solution

As newspapers struggle to breach the print-Web gap, a small community blog succeeds with an innovative approach

The Flying Pickle

Newspapers are still struggling to find their place in a world increasingly overwhelmed by digital media. Readership is down, ad revenues are down, even revenues on the Web editions of many papers are down. Some papers—the Guardian and Telegraph in London, for example—have even experimented with a printable PDF version of their sites in an attempt to reach those who browse online but ultimately want a paper copy in their hands. At this intersection of print and Web comes another concept, one which is proving both popular with its readership and economically successful: the Flying Pickle.

The Flying Pickle is a community-based blog serving three suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand at a population of about 6,500. Anyone in the area can post to the site and entries range from lost cats to yoga classes to bulletins from the local MPs. What sets the Flying Pickle apart from other attempts at community blogs at this scale is that every Wednesday night, the most popular posts and comments are copied and pasted into Web-to-print templates to be printed and distributed for free to mailboxes in the neighborhoods on Thursday morning. While the hosting costs of the site are negligible, the costs of the print version are offset by ads from local businesses.

Not only has the print edition been economically successful, it has been very popular with residents who would not otherwise be getting the information if it were only available online. While this may not prove to be scalable to the readership of a full-fledged newspaper, it's at the very least proof that the two mediums can be used together successfully.