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How to Save the Newspaper Industry

Local papers should merge with Starbucks?  The New York Times reports out of the Czech Republic:

Several coffee shops set to open next month in the Czech Republic plan to offer more than the usual array of cafe services. As they sip their drinks, visitors will also be able to surf the Web, get help in building social networking profiles or even chat with reporters working right next door putting together their local newspapers.

The newsrooms-cum-cafes are part of a new venture in so-called hyperlocal journalism, which aims to reconnect newspapers with readers and advertisers by focusing on neighborhood concerns at a neighborhood level: think garbage collection schedules, not Group of 7 diplomacy.

Hyperlocal publications have been springing up across Europe and North America as newspapers seek a formula for survival. But the Czech plan, the project of PPF Group, an investment firm, goes unusually far in its goal of weaving journalists into the communities they serve.

“There is no option to close the door” between the cafes and the adjacent newsrooms, said Roman Gallo, director of media strategies at PPF. “It’s a feeling for the reader that you can touch your editor and tell them what you want.

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