Monday, May 21, 2007

The New York Times loves free dailies!

The New York Times, America's most respected newspaper, has written two stories in the span of 11 days about free daily newspapers. This might not mean much to you green eyeshade accountants out there (who run newspapers these days), but to giddy journalists it's a sign that our industry is finally being taken seriously by the leader of the Mainstream Media. Of course it helps that the Times owns 49 percent of Boston Metro. Still, nobody from the business side tells the newsies at the Times what to write, right?

OK, the substance of the today's article gives us pause. The article is about how the Tribune Co.'s amNewYork has a better Web site than Metro International's Metro New York, but that Metro is going to change all of that in the "not-too-distant future," according to Publisher Daniel E. Magnus.

Also quoted by Times reporter Maria Aspan is amNewYork's Diane Goldie, who acknowledges that her paper's site doesn't have the staff to compete with other news sites in the NY metropolitan area, it has its own niche and is frequently quoted by Yuppie (do we still use that term?) sites such as Gothamist, Gawker and Curbed. The strategy, according to Goldie is: “They read the paper on the subway, and you give them something really substantial to go online for." (She ended her sentence with a preposition, but only somebody over 60 would have pointed that out.)

Aspan's article concludes with a big wet kiss for the free daily industry:
    Metro and amNew York are the two New York entries in the thriving free daily newspaper market. The papers, with their easy-to-read format, have helped cut into the print circulation of larger metropolitan papers.

    But why should commuters continue relying on a free paper’s Web site once they are at their computers?

    “If you’re looking for local news, the free papers may be a better voice,” said Barry Parr, a media analyst for Jupiter Research.

    “We’re certainly advising papers that they should have Web sites,” he said, “and I don’t think there’s a distinction between paid papers and free papers.”