Belltown Messenger - Documenting Downtown Seattle


Belltown Messenger #80 - June 2010

ALEX R. MAYER's media empire stays the course
Meet the New, Eco-Friendly Belltown Messenger

(update 10-10-2010: - We're online only now.)

Cover art from Belltown Messenger #73 (November 2009) by Terrence Nowicki, Jr.

In July, we at the Belltown Messenger will end our agreement with Pacific Publishing Company after a six-year partnership, and we thank them for subsidizing us all these years. Some have encouraged us to go online-only as long as we’re rebuilding from scratch, but a print version of our monthly rag is important to us. Newsprint is the real thing, baby: the real dog-poop-scooping, fish-wrapping touchy-feely piece of ephemera with so many uses. You can’t read your iPad and then start a campfire with it. Not very well, anyway. We’re happy if you do read the Messenger on your iPad (through the web browser – we have no need for a fancy, pretentious “iPad app”), but we want physical copies on the streets, too.

Those who see the Belltown Messenger as a unique and valuable part of our neighborhood will be happy with the plan I have devised to keep a sustainable print version of our paper going indefinitely.

The Messenger’s print edition will become a four-page black and white newspaper with a circulation of 3,000. Up to and including this issue (June), we’ve been printing 7,000 copies a month, and that was too many. An unwieldy supermarket insert made matters worse, tripling the bulk of the paper and producing too much neighborhood trash. We were never meant to be an insert-bearing “shopper” newspaper (the best example of that genre being The Springfield Shopper on The Simpsons). The business model for that kind of publication is no longer economically viable unless you own the printing press too.

(Pithy insert anecdote: the other day I was reading The Stranger and my four-year-old picked out an insert from it, a little credit card-sized coupon for Camel Snus, a smokeless tobacco product designed to give kids a head start on mouth cancer. Snus is a drug-delivery system popular in Sweden.)

Many things have changed in the past seven years. When we started the Messenger, I didn’t own a cell phone; the radical collapse of the entire newspaper industry had not yet taken hold. We laid the Messenger out in Quark XPress in those days, and then went outdoors to enjoy the fresh air, long before Facebook began sucking away much of that oxygen.

Our lower circulation will allow us to hone in on the very best Seattle drop-off spots and determine with exactitude how many papers to leave, with little waste. Fewer dead trees, as we wait for the pulp and paper industry to gear up for large-scale hemp paper production some day.

To reflect our lower circulation, our advertising rates have been slashed.

As of June 11, all advertising sales will be handled by us, not Pacific Publishing (they are still printing the paper – they own the presses!). Contact me and we’ll arrange to get you in here, really cheap.

Sponsors of the print edition will get placement at, as well as on our sister sites and A Google search for “Belltown” reveals the prominence of these domains.

Look for the same old favorites in the Messenger in the coming months – Clark, Ronald, Gillian, Mary Lou. And some surprises, too.

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© 2010 Belltown Messenger