Will “iNews” bring newspaper readers back?

A big newspaper company wants to give you news the way Burger King makes hamburgers: your way. MediaNews Group, the nation’s fourth-largest newspaper chain, said it would test a customized newspaper service this summer at The Los Angeles Daily News, one of the 54 dailies owned by the company.

The service, which allows readers to pick and choose only the stories that interest them, is among the many maneuvers that newspapers across the country are making to respond to the changes the Internet has wrought on their businesses…

But MediaNews’s experiment, which it has named “individuated news” — it has trademarked the phrase — or “I-news,” for short, has an old media twist: dead trees and a new piece of hardware for your home.

“I-News is really about choice,” said Peter Vandevanter, vice president for targeted products at MediaNews. “We’ll let the reader decide what they want to read and on what platform.”

MediaNews has been working with a technology company — Vandevanter would not say which one — to develop a proprietary printer for a reader’s home. It would receive and print a subscriber’s customized newspaper — with targeted advertising.

It is unclear if subscribers will pay extra for the printer, or if it will be part of the subscription fee. “The business model doesn’t have the finishing touches on it,” Vandevanter said.

On the Web, at various journalism blogs and news sites, the idea was greeted with skepticism and even ridicule.

I would be excited – if I was witnessing this, say, at the NY World’s Fair in 1939.

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