The April 18 – 24, 2013 edition of Time Out Chicago, which unceremoniously arrived in my mailbox this past week, is apparently the last print issue of the weekly arts, food and entertainment magazine. As of this writing I haven’t heard it officially, only from other sources, including some of the majority of the staff who were just fired.
For as much as I talk of how I get most all of my news and information online, Time Out Chicago was the sole exception. It was part events calendar, part coffee table book and not to mention part great bathroom reading material. Even if I wasn’t participating in the literally hundreds to thousands of events, shows or restaurants listed, it was a convenient, well-edited and attractive print publication.
And now it’s gone.
Once partially owned by Chicago resident and Morningstar founder Joe Mansueto, it was sold back to its parent company (which published editions in other cities) and it is apparently going solely online. They already have a Web site, though I have infrequently visited it. They also have an iPod app which apparently I could have bundled with my print subscription but when I attempted to do this the last time I renewed my subscription the customer service rep was not aware of this. Though it would have been nice to have it on my iPad, I had the print version, so why would I need another format?
My Idea Too-Late But Worth Mentioning
This idea hit me when I was in a doctor’s office waiting room, looking at the magazines fanned out on a table. Among them were a copy of Time Out Chicago and StreetWise, the latter being a periodical sold on the streets of Chicago by, as described by their Web site, people “…who are facing homelessness.” The magazine is part of a larger social services agency, and you can read more about StreetWise on their Web site. Where I don’t personally know much about the larger organization , I do see the people selling copies of them on the streets of Chicago. I’ll be honest I may have maybe bought 1 or 2 copies over the years, but then again I barely pickup free copies of other periodicals also available around the city.
So do you see my idea? Why not merge or mashup the 2 publications? The much smaller StreetWise would be included in the pages of Time Out Chicago, then the street sales force would sell the combined publication.
Could it have worked? It would have been worth a try! Rather than hearing someone hawking, “Streetwise…” we could have heard “Get Time Out Chicago, with the latest going on in Chicago…” Add to it Time Out logoed-gear to wear, and it would have added more to the sales pitch. The tourists alone would have bought out every issue.
But alas, it’s not to be. With the staff cuts already made, Time Out Chicago is going digital. I don’t know how much the quality will be effected, or even if their Web site has an RSS feed, but only time will tell.
Though it’s too late, I had to share this. What do you think, could it have worked? Are there other mashup opportunities out there that could be such a win-win? Other potentials for for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations to partner? Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments to this post.
This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.
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