Friday, January 26, 2007

D.C.'s new free daily has strong ad base

An Associated Press story about the premier of the third free daily in Washington, D.C., The Politico, provides some interesting insights:
    • Because it is a political publication, aimed at lawmakers and their staffers, The Politico will benefit from an advertising base of lobbyists, industry associations and trade groups that is healthy and growing — unlike the rest of the newspaper industry.

    • On its first day, The Politico's website received more than 200,000 page views by early afternoon, Harris said. The paper has told advertisers it expects 20,000 to 35,000 unique visitors to the site each day.

    • The Politico has garnered attention by snagging high-profile journalists to run the paper, the AP reports. Two of The Washington Post's top political journalists — editor John Harris and reporter Jim VandeHei — left to become The Politico's editor in chief and executive editor, respectively. Reporters have been lured from Time, U.S. News and World Report and the New York Daily News, among others.
The AP story had a hilarous touch -- when it listed The Politico's competitors it mentioned everyone except The Examiner. Wonder if Examiner owner Phil Anschutz is demanding a correction from the AP?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Murdoch may buy AMNewYork parent

Rupert Murdoch, who already owns the 704,011-circulation New York Post, is considering a bid for Tribune Co., whose New York-area properties include Long Island's 410,000-circulation Newsday and Newsday's free daily, AMNewYork (317,315 circulation). A sale to Murdoch would have to survive antitrust scrutiny and FCC approval (Tribune owns WPIX 11 and Murdoch's News Corp. owns WNYW Fox5). "Acquiring Newsday and merging some of its operations with the Post could help staunch some of those losses," writes media columnist Louis Hau. But what would happen to AMNewYork? It might be tempting for Murdoch to shut it down, even if it is true that the free paper is making a small profit. On the other hand, some readers have come to expect a free paper in the morning, so shutting down AMNewYork would give the free market to Metro New York. It might even open the door to another free paper.

Washington D.C. now has 3 free dailies

First there was the Washington Post's free daily, the Express, which was a defensive move -- intended to stop a free daily from damaging the mothership. Then conservative billionaire Phil Anschutz bought a group of suburban newspapers, combined them and renamed them the Examiner. Now Robert Allbritton (seen here in a Washington Post file photo) has launced The Politico. It appears it won't compete so much with the Express and Examiner but instead will focus on the niche occupied by Roll Call, the Hill and other publications such as the National Journal and Congressional Quarterly that concentrate on national politics and policy, the Washington Post reports. Allbritton's family owned the Washington Star in the 1970s. With a staff of 14 reporters and 12 editors, The Politico will publish Tuesday through Thursday when Congress is in session, and on Wednesdays during recess. That's the same publication schedule as the Hill. Roll Call publishes Monday through Thursday, and Mondays during recess. Allbritton had explored buying the Hill last year but the asking price was $40 million.

Monday, January 22, 2007

'Israeli' back in action after missing a day

As the owners of the free daily "Israeli" bicker in court, the paper didn't go out Sunday but returned to publication today (Jan. 22). The paper said it will scale back to printing just one edition a day instead of two, but will remain open until at least the end of legal proceedings. At right is a picture from of the paper being distributed to a Tel Aviv train station. In the battle between the two owners, which has all the earmarks of a bitter divorce case, Sheldon Adelson's attempt to bring in a manager to run the paper was nixed by the Tel Aviv District Court, putting the other owner, Shlomo Ben Tzvi, back in charge, according to Ben Tzvi wants the case to go into binding arbitration but Adelson would rather have the case settled in court.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Owners fight as "Israeli" flounders

Costs are higher than expected and revenues are less than expected. That's the story at the free daily "Israeli" and its two owners are fighting in court for control. Reporter Carmel Ben-Zour of described the situation succinctly:
    The free newspaper "Israeli" is losing $700,000 a month: It has $250,000 in revenues a month, and spends over a million dollars. According to the paper's business plan, which has been presented to the court, the paper was expected to lose $7.2 million from its start in November 2005 until the end of December 2006, and break even in November 2007. It was scheduled to lose only $307,000 a month at the end of 2006.

    The paper's owners, Sheldon Adelson and Shlomo Ben Tzvi, are in Tel Aviv District Court fighting over the future of the paper. For now the court recommended that they continue discussing a mutual sale or try binding arbitration. It seems the sides are seriously considering the arbitratration option. One of the major reasons for the large losses is that while the business plan spoke of printing costs of 6.4 cents per paper, the actual costs were 25-35 percent higher. Also, advertising revenues are significantly below the expectations laid out in the business plan. The two sides will meet again in court today [Jan. 20].

What did we learn here? The two partners wouldn't be fighting if they thought "Isreali" was hopeless. They know it could work, but it needs to stem its losses and sell more ads. However, the publicity about the paper's financial problems may be queering ad sales.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Belgrade free daily takes hold

A free daily named 24 sata (or 24 hours), which was launched in September by Swiss publisher Ringier, has become Belgrade's second most widely circulated paper after the government-controlled Vecemje Novosti, notes London Guardian writer and blogger Roy Greenslade. He says about 150,000 copies are being circulated in the Serbian capital, mostly in bus stations. Ringier also publishes the second paid-for daily of the city, the Blic tabloid.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Detroit publisher to head California group

The former editor and publisher of the Detroit Free Press and a former Knight Ridder newspaper executive has taken the helm of the 60,000-circulation Daily News Group in Northern California. Carole Leigh Hutton will replace Shareef Dajani, who was named publisher of the Palo Alto-based group only a year ago. An article announcing Hutton's appointment did not give any indication of any changes she might have in mind for the Daily News Group, which has editions in six cities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Under Dajani, the chain eliminated Monday editions in several cities and reduced its daily in Los Gatos to a three-day-a-week operation. Dajani will stay with the paper's owner, MediaNews, heading up its local speciality publications.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Free 'Israeli' daily gets stay of execution

The free "Israeli" will continue to publish through Monday (Jan. 15) while the partners in the paper try to decide which one will own the 13-month-old, 150,000-circulation daily newspaper. Israel National News reports that a Tel Aviv District Court judge on Thursday (Jan. 11) heard the lawsuit of Sheldon Adelson, who claims his partner, Shlomo Ben-Zvi, illegally took money from the business. Adelson is seeking the liquidation of the company. The court will hold another hearing on the suit on Monday (Jan. 15). Another lawsuit has been filed by workers at the newspaper, who claim the Israeli is bankrupt and that the only way to save it is to sell it as a going concern. Meanwhile, Ben-Zvi has promised to pay the employees' salaries, amounting to 500,000 Israel New Shekels ($118,624 U.S.), and publish the paper through at least Jan. 15. On Jan. 9, a columnist at the Haretz newspaper reported incorrectly that that day's issue of the Israeli would be the paper's last. As noted Nov. 22, the dispute between the two partners over the paper had boiled over into a lawsuit. At the time, Ben-Zvi was quoted as saying: "Adelson’s desire to hurt and pressure me has addled his mind, and caused him to take absurd measures."

Free papers big winners in Hong Kong

The three free dailies in Hong Kong are thriving and are drawing an increasing share of advertising dollars, the South China Morning Post reports. The three papers, Headline Daily, am 730 and Metro Daily, are getting about 10 percent of all newspaper revenue, and free segment of the market is growing at about 10 percent per year.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Editor quits Aspen paper, joins rival

After nearly 10 years at the Aspen Daily News, Editor Rick Carroll (at right) is jumping ship for the competitor, The Aspen Times. Both are free daily newspapers, competing head-to-head in perhaps the smallest market with two separately owned dailies. Carroll, 38, will become managing editor of the Times, replacing Allyn Harvey, who announced his resignation in December and will leave in February. The Aspen Daily News spin on the story was that Carroll was leaving an independently owned paper for one owned by a "corporate" chain, Swift Newspapers of Reno, Nev. The Daily News wrote, "For years, Carroll has shunned the corporate way of life, pledging allegiance to the Aspen Daily News and passionately opposing The Aspen Times." The Aspen Times put a different spin on it, quoting Carroll as saying, "I look at it as a move up." Carroll also said that while the Times often has more breadth and depth than the Daily News, he always tried to scoop the Times. He said he would like to bring some of that urgency to The Aspen Times.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Metro closes newspaper in Poland

Metro International chief executive Pelle Törnberg announced today that he's closing the Warsaw-based Metro Poland, which had been operating since 2000. The newspaper was not meeting the company's financial expectations and had been a drag on the overall performance of Metro International, he said. Last year, Metro closed its papers in Finland. The announcement gave no indication as to whether other money-losing Metros would soon be on the chopping block.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Scottish paper goes from paid to free

The BBC reports that the Daily Record PM, which circulates in Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland, will become a free newspaper. The Daily Record PM will carry local news and sports and heavily promote content from the paid Daily Record. The switch comes as The Sun has overtaken the Record in sales. "We have to follow the reader and be bold in exploring new ways of reaching new readers," the BBC quoted Editor Bruce Waddell as saying.

Disgraced columnist lands job at Examiner

A columnist from the Baltimore Sun who was caught stealing material from other newspapers has found a home at billionaire Phil Anschutz's Baltimore Examiner. Michael Olesker abruptly resigned from the Sun a year ago after he was caught lifting material from the Washington Post, New York Times and other papers. Here's a detailed report from Baltimore's alt-weekly, City Paper. In announcing Olesker's return to journalism, Examiner Publisher Michael Phelps didn't use the word "plagiarism." Instead Phelps wrote, "All of us who are honest with ourselves have found ourselves benched in one way or another over the years (or will). Handling benchings with grace is the mark of first-class hitters, pitchers and newspaper columnists." Interviewed by a local TV station, Phelps said, "I don't think it is relevant to our readers." Olesker isn't the first columnist to be dogged by plagiarism allegations. Molly Ivins has twice been caught stealing material and continues to be published in some of the nation's biggest newspapers.