Saturday, September 01, 2007

E&P discovers free dailies

Before Journalism Jobs, the place to go if an up-and-coming reporter was seeking a better job was a magazine called Editor & Publisher. I can remember vividly the sight of reporters in a newsroom where I worked grabbing the latest E&P to see the "help wanted" ads. The magazine had articles too, but I never saw anybody reading them.

Today, E&P has morphed into a website about the news business. It does original reporting including this story headlined: "SPECIAL REPORT: Who Said Print Is Dead?" The article (well worth the time of anybody in the free daily business) is about the commuter or big city version of the free daily. E&P says these papers are aimed at the "club-hopping, trail-hiking, speed-dating young audience that has sustained alternative papers for more than a generation."

The article points out that there may soon be a battle for advertisers between alt-weeklies and commuter free dailies, such as Chicago's RedEye, Dallas's Quick, St. Peterburg's *tbt and Orange County's OC Post. (Not to get technical, but the OC Post is paid, while the other three are free.)

The alt-weekly formula is pretty simple: Left-wing news stories, concert listings, entertainment reviews and porno ads. The porno ads in the past kept a lot of advertisers from signing up with an alt-weekly. But commuter free dailies don't have those ads and can draw upon a broader array of advertising verticals.

Free dailies have another advantage over alt-weeklies. They come out every day. A point made by Henry E. Scott, managing director of Gansevoort Media in New York and the former group publisher of Metro U.S. at the end of the article.

The alt-weekly trade association, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, knows the free dailies are coming. "We used to be the gnats biting at the ankles of the big papers," says Richard Karpel of the association. "Now we have thousand of gnats around trying to take our piece of cheese."