Saturday, December 23, 2006

Anschutz publication loses publisher

The publisher of billionaire Phil Anschutz's San Francisco City Star has resigned a month after the new paper started. The reason for John Gollin's departure wasn't given. Gollin was apparently the driving force behind the new paper. No replacement has been named.

In 2004, Anschutz bought the San Francisco Examiner after it had been converted from a paid broadsheet to a free tabloid by a previous owner. In May 2006, former Palo Alto (Calif.) Daily News publishers Dave Price and Jim Pavelich launched the San Francisco Daily, which had steadily grown from eight pages to 32 per day. In November, the Examiner started the City Star, which bears a striking resemblance to the San Francisco Daily though it hasn't grown from its initial 12-page size. The San Francisco Daily has complained publicly that the Star has been using its news racks for distribution, a claim that has drawn coverage from other media.

Gollin is the second Anschutz publisher to step down in a month. On Nov. 22, Herbert W. Moloney III resigned as publsher of the Washington Examiner after 19 months in the post. Like Gollin, Moloney gave no reason for his departure.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NY Times considering a free daily

Michael Calderone of the New York Observer reports that the New York Times Co. is looking at the idea of launching a free daily in New York to compete with amNewYork and New York Metro. Calderone says the planning for this new paper is in the earliest of stages -- Editor Bill Keller said in an e-mail "It's one of many projects that are in the noodling stage." The Times has become a partner in Boston Metro, and it is in a joint venture with Metro NY to re-run its classifieds to give those ads more reach. Broadsheets in Chicago and Washington, D.C., have both spun off free tabloids.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Paid daily says it's not hurt by free dailies

Hong Kong's newspaper market has got to be one of the world's most competitive with several paid papers competing against three strong and profitable free dailies -- Metro Publishing Hong Kong's Metro Daily, Sing Tao's Headline Daily and property agent Centaline Group's am 730. But the South China Morning Post reports that Ming Pao Enterprise, the publisher of Chinese language quality daily Ming Pao Daily News, isn't blaming the free papers for its decline in profits. Ming Pao's net profit fell 7 per cent to HK$15.09 million in the company's first half to September 30 from HK$16.3 million a year earlier as revenue jumped 11 per cent to HK$735 million. The company declared an unchanged interim dividend of 3 HK cents. "We don't see any setback from the free dailies," chief executive Francis Tiong said. Tiong said next year ought to be better with more real estate projects hitting the market, resulting in more ad sales.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Newspapers -- a growth industry

How many times have you read the story about how newspapers are dying? Unfortunately those article focus on large metro dailies, many of which are indeed dying, or on publications that have been mismanaged. But the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) reports that, contrary to conventional wisdom, newspapers are proliferating -- that the number of paid papers worldwide grew by 13 from 2001 to 2005, from 8,930 to 10,109.

The story for free dailies was even brighter. Total free daily circualtion has more than doubled during that period, from 12 million to 28 million -- a 137 percent increase.

"The surge of new, free titles thrust into the paid-for market are the result of many publishers rethinking the cover-price revenue model in place for more than 400 years," WAN says.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Ex Examiner circ employee speaks out

The Baltimore alternative weekly City Paper got a letter-to-the-editor worth mentioning here. For a couple of months now, we've been observing the problems billionaire Phil Anschutz's Examiner newspapers have had with their business model, which calls for throwing papers on lawns or driveways of high-income neighborhoods whether the paper is requested or not. People who don't want the Examiner say they can't stop the paper, even after repeated calls. In Baltimore, attorney Joel Levin is seeking a restraining order to stop delivery to his home. After an article about Levin's lawsuit, the Baltimore City Paper got this eye-opening letter:
    Thank you for the great laughs and chills I got from the Nov. 8 Newshole article regarding Joel Levin's restraining order against The Examiner ("Using Restraint"). I was the customer service representative for the circulation department for a whole entire month before I walked out on the job for the second and final time. There wasn't a single day that I wasn't either threatened with multiple lawsuits or begged by a paraplegic to stop throwing garbage on his property. It's about time someone took this step, and as someone who may have filled half of Baltimore with false hopes of a litter-free lawn, I offer my deepest sympathies.
    Brian Hagermann
    Perry Hall

Here's a link to the Baltimore Sun story about Levin's lawsuit. Above are signs Baltimore residents have posted outside their homes, attempting to stop delivery of the Examiner. Photo from Baltimore City Paper.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Boston Metro gets new publisher

Boston Metro has a new publisher, former Boston Celtics executive Stuart Layne, who fills a spot that apparently has been vacant since Feb. 17 when Peggy Onstad left the paper. Onstad is now at Advanstar Communications, overseeing magazines on skin care. When Onstad left, Metro said it was bringing in a "corporate troubleshooter." Layne was executive vice president of marketing and sales with the Boston Celtics. After that, he created a sports and entertainment marketing company called Seven 2 Sports Marketing.

Metro puts emphasis on "content"

The global newspaper chain Metro, which has yet to make any money in the United States, has decided its papers here need more "content." For you old timers out there, "content" is the modern word for "news."

Anyway, the content will come from Bloomberg. Additions include a daily "newsmaker" profile and an info graphic on the markets by Bloomberg. Eric Sass of MediaDailyNews says the publishers hopes "the new content will give Metro New York a leg up over rival AM New York -- another tabloid-style daily targeting young, well-to-do commuters with condensed news and lifestyle features, often lifted from wire services." Lifted might be too strong a word since Metro pays for the use of those wire services.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Has anybody shown Phil Anschutz this?

In San Francisco, the battle between free daily newspapers is heating up -- and one of the papers, billionaire Phil Anschutz's Examiner, has allegedly been caught doing dirty tricks -- putting its papers in a competitor's racks. What's worse for the Anschutz folks, the dirty tricks made the local TV news. Does Anschutz know what his people are doing in San Francisco?