Interactive Newsprint: The Future of Newspapers? Printed electronics meets hyperlocal and community co-design

Egglestone, Paul and Mills, John orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4491-6796 (2012) Interactive Newsprint: The Future of Newspapers? Printed electronics meets hyperlocal and community co-design. In: III ICMC, 14-15 May 2012, Porto, Portugal.

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The news industry is currently in a well-documented state of flux, with publishers from across the developed world examining new business models, reinterpreting existing relationships between their income streams and readers, while maintaining their ability to generate editorial output that is relevant and interesting to the communities they cover.
Interactive Newsprint seeks to add a new and revolutionary dimension to this media evolution by asking: can printed electronics and internet-enabled paper (technologies that utilise standard paper and printing processes and through conductive ink and battery power offer capacitive touch interactions similar to smartphones and tablets) create a new way of transmitting community-based news and information?
Utilising co-design techniques and practices, the project seeks to produce community- relevant hyperlocal text and audio content and place it on a centuries-old platform: the newspaper. As a result of the paper's internet connectivity, the project is also examining potential benefits of transplanting some online features such as analytic data on user interactions. Led by the School of Journalism, Media and Communication (JoMeC) at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), the 18-month, EPRSC-funded project is therefore examining the potential for community co-design and printed electronics to transform paper- based news and information for the 21st Century, along with revenue and data generation that is unique to digital formats such as websites, social networks, smartphones and tablets. Building on work carried out on the EPSRC-funded Bespoke project, researchers from UCLan, University of Dundee, University of Surrey and commercial printed electronics firm Novalia are prototyping a series of paper-based community news platforms that are populated by content produced by community reporters and generated through an iterative co-design process.
This paper will outline the methodology, technological potential of interactive newsprint and how the project is looking to embed analytic data into traditional printed-paper formats. It will also focus on how members of the Preston community are shaping both the news and platform over the 18-month process. As the project is mid-way through, the paper will present an overview of the project to date, outline the design methodology and describe and demonstrate the early-stage prototypes. The paper will also hint at new editorial construction practices as community and professional reporters all contribute to the hyperlocally-themed editorial output. The authors will present a discussion of the theoretical framework that underpins the project as a whole. In addition to the practical illustrations, the paper will outline the authors' initial thoughts on how interactive newsprint – through its internet connectivity and potential for data transfer – could revolutionise editorial and advertorial relationships.

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