Tuesday, October 10, 2006

How are the Examiners staying alive?

We were going to write about Rupert Murdoch's entry into the Washington, D.C., newspaper market with his decision to begin home delivery of the New York Post in the DC suburbs. It's a good bet the Post will find readers in D.C. like it has in Florida, where transplanted New Yorkers or those hungry for a conservative tabloid have devoured the Post.

But what struck us in D.C. is how the existing conservative tabloid, the Examiner, seems to be dying -- or at least not growing since it started on Feb. 1, 2005.

We grabbed the Friday, Oct. 6, Examiner. It was only 40 pages and 18 pages had no advertising whatsoever. The Examiner only had 22 display (non-classified) ads, and five of them were for movies. Owner Phil Anschutz owns a national chain of movie theaters, so it is likely the five movie ads were gifts from his own chain or its vendors rather than real ads.

The same problem seems to be afflicting Anschutz's other two papers, the Examiners in San Francisco and Baltimore. Maybe it's the format or the distribution method (thrown on doorsteps whether or not the owner wants it), but these papers do not appear healthy.

Contrast that with the paid circulation of the Washington Times (100,000 per day), which is packed with ads and has an influence on the national scene. When the Washington Times called for House Speaker Dennis Hastert to resign, everybody was talking about that paper.

That's the kind of influence Anschutz probably wanted when he bought his first Examiner. Anybody want to start making bets as to when Anschutz pulls the plug?