Freedom of the press – it’s one of the United State’s fundamental freedoms, and you want to be a part of it. But how do you go about starting your own newspaper? Here are some of the most basic steps you’ll need to know to get started. I’ll start out by saying that I assume if you’ve gotten to the point where you’re looking up how to start a newspaper, you already have a general idea of what kind of audience you want to serve, what kind of content you want to publish, and maybe even a name for your publication. That leads us to the next step:
If you’re going to have a successful publication, you’re going to need staff – professional writers, ad managers, editors, designers, etc. You don’t want every story in the paper to have your byline on it. Of course, early you probably won’t make enough money to hire any staff, so you’ll have to look for volunteers. Free classified ads like Craigslist.com are a good place to advertise for volunteers. College journalism majors may be eager to help to gain experience.
The next step, of course, is generating content that people will want to read. If you’re starting a local paper, then stick to local topics – people don’t necessarily want to read about your take foreign policy or anything like that.
If you want your paper to make a profit, you’re going to do it by selling ads. Decide how much you want to sell ads for, make an ad rate card explaining how much different sized ads cost, and then visit local businesses and ask if they’d like to buy an ad. Maintaining good relationships with your advertisers will help you maintain advertising revenue in the future.
Design the Paper
If you want to put out a paper, you have to design it, of course. Word processing software like Corel WordPerfect and Microsoft Word can offer some decent newsletter formatting, but for designing a professional looking newspaper, they fall short. You want to go with desktop publishing software like Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. You’ll also probably want to buy a book to help you learn how to use such software.
Print the Paper
Your next step is printing the paper. Look for nearby printers in the yellow pages or online. If you still don’t have any luck finding one, then contact any existing local newspapers and ask them where they print their papers. Sometimes newspapers have their own printing presses, but will often print other people’s projects for a fee. Shop around and seek out the best price, because printing is expensive and will probably be your primary cost – a cost you’re probably going to have to pay out of pocket at first until you sell a sufficient number of ads unless you take out a loan or something.
The next step is to distribute your paper to the community. Assuming that you’re distributing it for free, just go to local businesses and other public places and ask if you can leave a stack. You may have to provide a rack to put them on. You should also distribute online, which leads to the next step.
Create a Web Site
In this day and age, you pretty much have to have a presence on the Web if you want to make anything of yourself. The first step is registering a domain name. You can register a name for around $10 a year. You can have a free domain name through a site like WordPress, but it will be something along the lines of yourname/wordpress.com – not exactly the easiest URL to remember, or the most professional looking.
The next part is actually designing the website. If you use WordPress as your main hosting provider, you can use some of their free design tools. If you want a more professional looking site, you can also use Website design software – probably the best, as far as I’m concerned, is Adobe Dreamweaver. The only drawback is that Dreamweaver is fairly expensive – but if you’re at a place where you can afford it, it’s definitely worth it.
You’ll also be able to sell advertising on your Web site, and maybe even generate money from a service like Google Adsense.