Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Metro's PR machine cons AFP

You've got to wonder about the accuracy of a news story when it begins with a blatant factual error.
    STOCKHOLM (AFP) - The Scandinavian country is home to Metro, the first free daily newspaper, launched in 1995 and which revolutionised the European press, putting pressure on weak traditional markets.
The "first free daily newspaper"? Not even close. Free dailies started in the United States in the 1940s when a publisher in Northern California began what is now known as the Contra Costa Times. That publisher converted his free dailies into paid papers in the 1950s. But the free daily newspaper returned in 1970 when a college newspaper was forced off of its campus in Boulder, Colorado, due to its editorials about the Vietnam War. The university's pro-war regents hoped the paper would die. It didn't. Instead the Colorado Daily became a community newspaper covering both the campus and the outlying community. As graduates of the University of Colorado began to put down roots in other Colorado cities, free dailies began sprouting in Aspen, Vail, Summit County, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs, Telluride -- and this was all before 1995, when Metro launched in Sweden. That same year, three founders of free dailies in Colorado got together and formed a free daily in the San Francisco suburb of Palo Alto in 1995 -- again, before Metro ever started. The Palo Alto Daily News became a widely copied model of a free daily newspaper, producing a profit nine months after opening its doors. Metro has never made a dime in profit in the United States.

That history casts doubt on the rest of this AFP article about the explosion of free dailies in Sweden and Metro's alleged dominance of them.