Would you consider printing your favourite newspaper at home, every evening, if you had the chance?
Catalan title VilaWeb, which launched as an online-only publication in 1995, is now giving its subscribers the option to do just that, with a new product called VilaWeb Paper.
Announced on 28 June, VilaWeb Paper is an evening edition, which readers can print in the comfort of their own homes, or download on their mobile or tablet. Unlike traditional newspapers, VilaWeb Paper is not available on any newsstands.
Vicent Partal, VilaWeb's founder and managing director, said the idea for the print-at-home paper originated from conversations taking place last year in Spain, and outside of the country, about fake news, the role of the internet, and the challenge for news outlets to highlight "the quality of the press, especially online press".
"We think that one of the biggest problems now is that people get news through social networks, so they only get a piece, they don't get the context and the whole picture of what's happening," Partal told Journalism.co.uk.
The idea was to highlight slow news – not incremental news – but news that is much more elaboratedVicent Partal, VilaWeb
"So we thought why not create a paper that people can print and that they can also read on their phones, which is published at 10pm? Because that's when people [in Spain] are at home and have the time to read. The idea was to highlight slow news – not incremental news, but news that is much more elaborated."
VilaWeb focuses on covering politics, culture and the economy (it doesn't cover sports, for example) and has two main sections on its website: breaking news, and reportage. Its editorial team of 22 people is also split accordingly, with journalists producing breaking news stories or longform analysis, as opposed to being divided by expertise or vertical.
The number of stories that will be featured in VilaWeb Paper is yet to be decided, Partal said. He is aiming for the paper to not have more than 24 pages, even though the space is technically unlimited.
"It's not a traditional printed newspaper, but I think that if you print more than 20 or 24 pages, it's not good. We will include opinion articles, which are very important for VilaWeb, interviews, a couple of reportages and some shorter stories, but no breaking news."
VilaWeb Paper is the latest in the list of perks the outlet's 6,000 subscribers across Barcelona, Valencia, or Palma benefit from.
VilaWeb introduced subscriptions three years ago, originally asking people to pay just to "show commitment to our job and to help us reach more people". Slowly, the team has expanded the two subscription options, which charge €60 (£52) and €120 (£105) per year respectively, so that subscribers now receive some 12 member-only perks.
These include exclusive access to stories before they get published online, the ability to comment online, having a personal blog on vilaweb.cat, and a WhatsApp group where the audience can interact with members of the newsroom and contribute to stories by sharing their experiences.
One of the benefits for subscribers is that, for the last year and a half, they have been receiving, at 10pm each evening, a collection of the stories that would be published on vilaweb.cat the following day.
"So now we are doing the same thing, publishing at 10pm tomorrow's longform news in the paper format, which is only available for subscribers during the week.
"On Fridays we publish a newspaper that is available to everyone, containing the best stories of the week."
Before officially launching VilaWeb Paper, the newsroom held one of its quarterly assemblies with subscribers in four Catalan-speaking cities, explaining the upcoming product and then testing the prototype with a select group of paying readers.
"By allowing people to print the paper themselves, you bypass the problem of distribution and you are also reaching people at the exact moment when they have time to read.
"Earlier this week, one of the ministers in Catalonia was fired by the president at 9pm, and at 10pm we already had a version of a story about it in the paper.
Journalism stands for real communities of real people, so you need to allow people to help you, to show you what they wantVicent Partal, VilaWeb
With traditional newspapers, there is too much time between the moment you print the paper and the moment when it arrives to readers, which is eight hours later. This way, we are always on time."
Currently, about 1,300,000 people come to vilaweb.cat every month, and depending on where they come from, they see different versions of the content.
For example on mobile, which is dominant for the title's audience, the front page usually features breaking news. On the web readers are greeted by articles that offer a "more general understanding of what's happening", while the print product focuses on longform reporting.
"People may see an article in one of these places and read it in another one. You have three windows to your readers, three different products made by the same newsroom.
Partal said VilaWeb is trying to identify the best way to build a strong base of subscribers – "we don't need a lot, our hope is that we can reach 10,000 or maybe 20,000 in the next three years, because that would change and simplify our model".
"Journalism stands for real communities of real people, so you need to be part of them and have the tools to allow people to help you, to show you what they want," Partal added.
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