In an age of digital news publishing, print can never keep up with the instant coverage provided by online journalists and the rapid dissemination of information on sites such as Twitter. However, we have in the past seen Sweden’s Meganews offer the world’s first print-on-demand newsstand, and now the UK’s Guardian newspaper is experimenting with a new weekly publication called The Long Good Read that uses robots to curate the best recent longform pieces and print copies in under an hour.
The Long Good Read is available only at the newspaper’s own branded Guardian Coffee venue in East London, and is made possible thanks to print-on-demand technology provided by the Newspaper Club. While the regular Guardian office is staffed by hard-working human journalists, the Long Good Read uses an algorithm to filter out blog posts, interactive content and short pieces to find article of a length that would suit those wanting a substantial read while they enjoy their coffee. The process selects the top 30 articles from the past week’s Guardian, which is then whittled down again by a human editor. Once selected, a semi-automated version of ARTHR — the Newspaper Club’s own print layout software — then presents the pieces into a 24-page newspaper, ready to print and deliver to the café by Monday morning.
The Long Good Read is an example of how print media can both compete with and take advantage of the new technologies that digital offers, while also helping to promote longform journalism over less substantial forms of news delivery. With rapidly increasing print turnarounds, could we soon see physical newspapers customized to the individual reader?