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Roatan New Times Begins With A Wimper

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After nearly 8 months of preparations, Jeff Stratton finally launched his new print publication named Roatan New Times. Not quite what it was hyped up to be, the paper resembles a used TV Guide, leaving black newsprint all over one's fingers. The long anticipated first issue left most readers disappointed -- where's the beef? Long on advertising and promotional copy, the paper fell short on the promise of cutting edge Roatan news and stories as an alternative to the established Bay Islands Voice. The first issue entitled "The Best Of Roatan" came across as an ass-kissing-fest for all of the advertisers and supporters of the paper. While many expected to read one of the much touted stories about the Haynes imprisonment, Brion James and his bees, and other Roatan profiles, it seems these stories are slated for another issue. "The Haynes aren't going anywhere," says Jeff.

Potential advertisers were courted with promises of a glossy, full color, tabloid that would put the Voice to shame. However, as the months went by with no issue in sight, the tabloid sized down to a periodical, the gloss turned to newsprint, and the paper the thinnest grade available. The actual paper stock is somewhat grey and the newsprint is difficult to read -- not like the crisp glossy finish of the Voice. 'Cheap' is the only word that properly describes the quality of the final product.

It seems the principals did not have much of a plan for getting the paper into potential readers hands. Advertisers were surprised that they would be required to buy each issue for a dollar to sell for two dollars -- twice the price of the Voice. The Voice gives its advertisers issues free to distribute, and has provided racks for display. With no display racks included, merchants must provide their own means for displaying the paper and marketing it to potential buyers. Originally the paper was supposed to be free, but with costs far exceeding revenues the distribution plan changed to make the advertisers buy the paper and distribute it themselves. The advertising rates were also higher than originally proposed. Initially, the rates were planned to be less than the Voice to attract new advertisers; however, a 1/4 page ad (which appears to be the smallest size offered) runs about $100 an issue. With 2000 issues printed, that the advertisers must sell themselves, one wonders who will actually see the issue. And since the paper is so flimsy, it will not likely last through more than a single use. Many advertisers are already cancelling their ads for the next issue as the only people actually reading the paper are the advertisers themselves.

As readers of the online publication Roatan Island Times may remember, Jeff's initial effort to launch his paper was fraught with delays and constant renegotiations with 'team' members, eventually resulting in the loss of their key developer who built the initial tabloid formats, logo, marketing materials, web site and project management plans. Jeff has been struggling ever since to maintain the high level of quality provided by Mr. Eric, but has had no luck in enrolling local graphic designers and web developers onto the 'team.' One developer recounts Jeff's offer to give him a full page ad in exchange for re-creating the logo and a full-featured multimedia web site (like the one developed by Mr. Eric). "He said they wanted me on their team," the designer remembered, "These guys are not very organized and have no money, but they want me to develop a web site quickly for posting articles, rotating ads, and blogs -- I see why things didn't work out between them and Mr. Eric. He already developed that for them, but he was paid nothing. He was a 'team' member, too."

Mr. Eric perused the new issue, "Is that all?" Wiping the ink from his fingers, "That's a shame. Not at all what I had developed. But I have no regrets. If I was ever to have gotten paid for this, it would have been less than $1000 for eight months effort, and the stories that Jeff has planned are sure to piss off a lot of people. I feel much better now that I am off the project, although I am now stuck with an online publication, all dressed up and no where to go." ;-)
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All the News that Fits: Will Roatan Island Times finally launch?, 01-Mar-2011

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