Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Growth of free dailies charted by academic

Here's a link to a paper by Amsterdam University's Piet Bakker that charts the growth of free daily newspapers. The paper heavily focuses on Europe and ignores early free dailies in the U.S. dating back to the 1970s. While talking about the Metro International chain (which still isn't profitable after seven years in business), he ignores the profitable free dailies in places like Palo Alto, Calif., Aspen, Colo., and Conway, N.H., to name just a few. But his conclusion is one we can all take to the bank -- "Because free dailies have also proven to be attractive to a younger audience, the future looks relatively bright."

Saturday, November 23, 2002

More details about Berkeley paper's closure

While most free dailies are enjoying growth and success, the Berkeley (California) Daily Planet is a notable exception. It closed yesterday after 3 1/2 years in business. Started in 1997 by three Stanford business school graduates and two journalists, it attempted to survive by offering low cost advertising like other free dailies. A story in the San Francisco Chronicle today quotes the editor of the Planet as expressing disappointment over the closure considering that he had made a number of changes in the past few months to improve news coverage. Apparently it was too little, too late. The paper had three editors and three reporters, 10 regular contributors, a handful of interns and a tiny business staff. Circulation varied, and Alexander estimated it in the 15,000-20,000 range just before it closed. The Planet's owners started a paper in San Mateo, California, about 15 miles away, and claim that it is doing well.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Berkeley (California) 'Daily Planet' folds

A free daily serving Berkeley, California, closed today after printing its last issue. The University of California Daily Cal newspaper reports that the Planet's employees learned about the closure when arrived at work today and found a note on the door. The Los Angeles Times reported in January that the Planet had failed to turn a profit since its 1999 inception. "This year there had been a continued decline in pages, and the number of pages is the number of ads," said Judith Scherr, who had been a reporter at the paper for about 18 months.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Chicago Trib's RedEye should be a free daily

When you read this press release about the Chicago Tribune's new RedEye daily, you might be asking yourself why it costs 25 cents.
    With its tightly-edited mix of topical news and features coupled with its daily frequency, the RedEye edition stands out from other publications targeting young adults.

    "If readers give us 20 minutes, we'll make the most of their time," said Jane Hirt, RedEye co-editor. "We'll plug them in each day on everything from the top news stories to the hottest celebrity gossip, and not always in that order.""
Obviously RedEye is aimed at the 18- to 34-year-old demographic — readers who have eschewed paid broadsheets and any other paid content. They feel they shouldn't have to pay for news. If the Tribune Company, owner of the Chicago Tribune, made RedEye free and distributed it at the same locations as the rival Sun-Times, guess what would happen? The Sun-Times would be out of business in a few years.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

New free daily in Los Gatos, California

The Palo Alto (Calif.) Daily News has launched another paper in Los Gatos, Calif., a city of about 20,000 west of San Jose, Calif., in the middle of Silicon Valley. Los Gatos had a daily years ago that was acquired by the San Jose Mercury News, the region's dominant newspaper. It will be interesting to see if the Palo Alto formula of small-town news will work in a sophisticated, cutting-edge tech hub.

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Free daily launches in Denver

Denver, Colo. now has a free daily. The Denver Daily News hit the streets yesterday (May 10). The owners are Mike Kirshbaum, Jim Pavelich and Dave Pierce. Kirschbaum was formerly head of the Summit County Daily in Breckenridge, and it is the operating partner in this paper. Pavelich started the Vail Daily and Pierce the Aspen Times. Pavelich and Pierce are now putting out the Palo Alto (Calif.) Daily News. The first edition of the "Denver Daily" was 8 pages, but the optimistic staff hopes it will grow. Denver has two other dailies, the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, which have become "regional" papers, ignoring a city that can be interesting at times.