Thursday, March 29, 2001

The new free daily nobody is talking about

One of the most exciting free dailies in the U.S. is in Nashville. The City Paper (that's it's name) launched last November with 17 full-time news staffers and a daily circulation of 40,000. It is taking on Nashville's big daily, The Tennessean, with a daily circulation of 186,793 and 260,733 on Sundays. The Tennessean, owned by Gannett, has not faced daily competition since the Nashville Banner closed on Feb. 20, 1998 with a circulation of 40,633.

The City Paper is being financed by a local computer software entrepreneur, Brian Brown, who has no previous newspaper experience. However, every member of his newsroom staff has worked at other dailies, many at The Tennessean.

Nationally, there's been no coverage that I can find of the launch of The City Paper. I found a few local stories in Nashville (which form the basis of this posting), but the media that has written so much about Metro International's launches in North America has ignored The City Paper.

While The Tennessean sees itself as a regional paper, and it carries a lot of national news as well, The City Paper is much more local. "News as it hits your neighborhood, not as it hits the City Council agenda. We're trying to carve our own niche," Catherine Mayhew, City Paper executive editor, told the trade publication Brandweek. Brandweek is one of the few places where I found any information about The City Paper. The quote above is from its February 5 issue.

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

PBS' report on free daily newspapers

This link is to the script of the "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" report on the rise of free daily newspapers. Terence Smith and his crew produced an accurate report, perhaps the first for broadcast journalists, on what makes free dailies tick. Since then, however, the free dailies in New York operated by the Post and NY Daily News have closed, and two new free dailies have taken their place -- Metro and AM New York. Also in this story is Dave Price, then editor and publisher of the Palo Alto Daily News, which has since been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Knight Ridder -- probably because it was making life difficult for the struggling San Jose Mercury News. Price was also the founding editor of the Aspen Times Daily, one of the world's first free dailies. Ted Fang, publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, is long gone. The Examiner was purchased by billionaire Phillip Anschutz, who has been pouring millions into it, but hasn't made a profit -- at least not yet.

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Welcome to my 'blog' about free dailies

While traditional newspapers are suffering from declining circulation, there is a bright spot in the newspaper industry -- free daily newspapers. I've spotted several of them over the years across the country, and have decided to chronicle their growth with this Web log (or blog).

My name is Clyde Davis, and I have toiled in broadcasting in Oklahoma and Colorado. In print, I sold advertising in New Mexico and Texas. My last stop before retirement was at the Houston Post.

Now I'm retired, I paint, walk 2 miles a day and enjoy several newspapers. I want them to survive. But they won't unless they change how they do business. And that's what excites me about free dailies. I was infuriated when the Post closed because, had it been managed differently, it could have survived. There were certainly enough advertisers and readers in the Houston metro area to support both papers.

My purpose in this Web log is to inform like-minded people about the progress of free dailies. I wish to report what happens to them, good or bad. For the record, I have no ties to any of them whatsoever. I don't even own stock in any newspaper companies. I am an interested observer -- with a point of view.