Thursday, March 23, 2006

Free daily starts in Santa Barbara, Calif.

The newspaper business in Santa Barbara has seen some tumultuous changes in the past six years. In 2000, Wendy McCaw, who became a billionaire when she divorced husband and cell phone pioneer Jeff McCaw, bought her hometown newspaper, the 45,000-circulation Santa Barbara News-Press from the New York Times. As soon as the ink was dry on the sale papers, McCaw was using the News-Press as a vehicle to attack the California Coastal Commission because it wouldn't let her block access to 500 feet of beachfront by her home. (This Forbes article suggests she's a strange woman.) Key staffers bolted from the paper, some going to the crosstown weekly. There was talk of starting another daily in Santa Barbara to compete against what the News-Press had become, but nobody did it.

Until now.

A former staffer at the Palo Alto Daily News, 23-year-old Jeramy Gordon, moved to Santa Barbara and launched the Daily Sound. Gordon said he got the idea to start a free paper from his former bosses and mentors Dave Price and Jim Pavelich. Price and Pavelich founded the Daily News Group, a chain of six free dailies in the Bay Area, which were sold to Knight Ridder in 2005. Gordon worked at the Daily News for four years, his last year as managing editor. “Free dailies are the wave of the future,” Gordon said. “As more and more people get tired of buying those big awkward broadsheet newspapers, they’ll see just how valuable our product is.”

Peninsula Press Club write up
Daily Sound's press release about its launch
Santa Barbara's weekly manages to give a whole paragraph to the town's new newspaper