From the Los Angeles Times (via a post at Wired) comes the news that a little-known “newspaper” called the Club Penguin Times apparently has almost 7 million subscribers, many of whom read the paper at least once a week. And where is this newspaper published? Inside Club Penguin, the virtual world for kids that was developed by a trio of parents from the tiny town of Kelowna, B.C. and bought by Disney last year in a deal worth as much as $750-million. As the L.A. Times notes, that readership makes the Club Penguin paper bigger than either the New York Daily News or the Chicago Tribune, among others.
Obviously, there are differences between an online journal published for kids between 6 and 14 and traditional newspapers in the real world, but that’s still a huge number. The Club Penguin “paper” gets about 30,000 submissions a day from readers for its poetry contests, its “Aunt Arctic” advice column and other features (much of the content in the newspaper is created by users). And best of all, the Penguin Times doesn’t have to worry about advertising — it doesn’t carry any.
Lane Merrifield, the CEO of Club Penguin and an extremely nice guy, was one of our keynote speakers at mesh 2008 last May. There’s some video of his talk with Stuart MacDonald at mDialog.