Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In Vancouver, 24 says its way ahead of Metro

We're skeptical of claims by any media outlet which says it's No. 1. That said, it's still interesting to talk about a readership survey of the Vancouver, B.C., newspaper market by the Newspaper Audience Databank (NADbank). The free daily "24 hours" says the survey shows it's way ahead of Metro -- that 24 reaches 187,900 readers daily, 76 percent more than Metro (which has 106,600). But 24 also admits that it's only the third most-read paper in the market -- the paid National Post and Globe & Mail are still on top.

UPDATE: After Vancouver's "24 hours" printed the article about its readership survey, the owner of the 24 chain,
Sun Media, put out this press release that says its readership is growing in Montreal (24 heures) and Toronto (24 hours).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Free daily, paid daily staffs to merge

Copley Press, which owns both a free daily and a paid daily in San Diego County, California, plans to merge the staffs of the two papers to cut costs, Copley announced today (Sept. 12).

The consolidation of the San Diego Union-Tribune and the free Today's Local News will take effect Oct. 4 and will eliminate about 26 positions at Today’s Local News.

Local News Executive Editor Cindy Allen will take charge of a reorganized community news staff that will produce stories for both Today’s Local News and the community news pages of the Union-Tribune’s North County news sections. Reporters and editors in the Union-Tribune’s bureaus in Carlsbad and Escondido will produce stories for both newspapers. Allen will report to Todd Merriman, the Union-Tribune’s senior editor for news.

“Any decision that results in the loss of employees is both difficult and painful,” Merriman said. “However, by combining resources, we will have more and better editorial content available for both newspapers than either could provide alone.”

Created by Copley Press in 2004, Today’s Local News distributes more than 70,000 copies Wednesday through Sunday, focusing on the communities of Carlsbad, Oceanside, Escondido, San Marcos and Vista. The Union-Tribune has a circulation of about 340,000 daily and 440,000 Sunday.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Murdoch launches free daily in London

Rupert Murdoch's long awaited thelondonpaper hit the streets Monday afternoon, going head-to-head with another evening freebie, London Lite, launched a week earlier by Viscount Rothermere's Associated Newspapers. The timing of London Lite was said to be a coincidence, but many on Fleet Street saw a savvy attempt to spoil Murdoch's plans, according to Forbes. The article continues, "It's the sort of battle familiar to Fleet Street veterans like Murdoch and Rothermere, who in recent times have had to grapple with the popularity of the Internet. Yet while many have heard a death knell from the Web, the advent of free papers may prove a promising source of revenue for increasingly desperate newspaper publishers."

London's Daily Mail says that Murdoch moved up the date for launching thelondonpaper by two weeks in an attempt to beat Associated Newspapers' London Lite to market.

London's Sunday Times says the explosion of free newspapers is due to the Internet.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Chicago free daily says it's in the black

This is big news, if it's true. The Chicago Tribune's free daily, RedEye, revealed in the sixth paragraph of a press release that "strong advertiser support has led RedEye to profitability in 2006." We have got to presume that's true, since RedEye is owned by the Tribune Company, a publicly held company subject to strict Sarbanes Oxley regulations regarding such statements.

RedEye is the first metro free daily to make money in the United States. Smaller market free dailies, such as those in the San Francisco Bay Area or Colorado, have been profitable for years. But of the nation's 11 metro free dailies (Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, New York (2), Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington (2)), this is the first one to go into the black.

The news was buried in a press releasethat announced RedEye was increasing its distribution by 50 percent from 100,000 to 150,000 copies a day "to meet increasing demand from both readers and advertisers." In addition, RedEye said it is adding more than 1,000 newsracks in key areas across Chicago.

RedEye found success, the release notes, after removing its 25-cent cover price, making it even easier to pick up. And in this age where it seems only old people read newspapers, RedEye claims that it offers a higher 18-34 index than any other Chicago publication.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tribune takes 100% stake in amNew York

Tribune Co., majority owner of the free daily amNew York, has bought the shares of a minority investor group led by amNew York co-founder and publisher Russel Pergament, according to a press release from Tribune. Under an agreement signed in 2003 when the paper started, Tribune had rights to purchase the interest after three years.

Tribune also announced that the paper's general manager, Christopher Barnes, 35, has been named as publisher and that Pergament will become a consultant. Pergament had made a commitment to the paper for three years, and he left after that time was up, amNew York said.

COMMENTARY: What Tribune didn't say was whether the 320,000-circulation paper was profitable, which would lead one to conclude that it is not. If it were, that would be the story. Tribune said in 2003 that it expected amNew York to turn a profit by 2006, according to a Reuters report.

The U.S. has two types of free dailies -- community free dailies, which are generally profitable, and metro free dailies (Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington), none of which has reported making a profit.

Other questions raised by all of this include: Was Pergament pushed or did he jump? Did Tribune hold him responsible for the paper not being in the black by 2006? Or was Tribune cutting costs by booting Pergament in order to bring amNew York into the black?

New York is a highly competitive media market, so we imagine these questions will be asked and answered by somebody at a competing publication. Stay tuned.