Boulder Today: Magazine plans to go after CU students old-fashioned way -- with print

We keep hearing that young people don't give a damn about print products -- but Dan Kennedy begs to differ.

The CU-Boulder junior is the publisher of Boulder Today, a magazine aimed at his fellow Buffs -- and while it's available now, he's planning a major redesign and circulation boost in August to correspond with the start of the next school year.

Kennedy is enrolled in CU's journalism department, or whatever passes for it at present. He describes the current iteration of Boulder Today, which launched in late 2010, as a five-and-a-half-inch by eight-and-a-half-inch "mini-booklet" that combines news and party coverage meant to appeal to college students -- the same audience targeted by rival pubs like The Rooster, the Boulder Weekly, The Onion and the Colorado Daily. See a sample spread below.

But rather than trying to tackle these competitors head-on from the outset, Kennedy has chosen a slow-and-steady approach.

"I print 250 booklets a week and give them to my advertisers and put them inside businesses on University Hill, the campus and downtown," he notes. The idea is "to get people to know me, find me on Facebook, get them comfortable with what I'm doing. I'm trying to build awareness."

These efforts are intended to lay the groundwork for August, when the circulation will increase to 7,000 copies per issue on eight-and-a-half by ten-and-a-half inch newsprint -- a format with which he feels many advertisers remain most comfortable.

"I keep being told to go all online, and I'll probably do a blog kind of thing along with print," he says. "But I'm convinced there are a lot of businesses that want to advertise in a newspaper for students."

Although the formal launch of Boulder Today 2.0 is still a ways off, Kennedy is already ramping up. He's connected with about twenty contributors, including writers and photographers, and he's interviewing new prospects.

In the meantime, Kennedy is doing most of the heavy lifting at Boulder Today, including ad sales and distribution. But he's not complaining. In his words, "I want to be king of my own thing."

And he's convinced that thing will remain viable despite frequent proclamations that print is dead.

More from our Media archive: "Denver Daily News shuts down: 'Just doesn't look like we can sustain,' publisher says."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
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