Friday, October 26, 2007

After fire, new free daily goes weekly

After a fire gutted its offices, a 4-month-old free newspaper in Fayetteville, N.C., has switched from daily to weekly. The young paper, called SmartNews, was being warmly received by readers but advertisers weren't as quick to jump on board, Editor and Co-Publisher Randy Foster said in this candid Web posting to readers.

Foster wrote that his 8,000-circulation paper also faced other obstacles "such as being locked out of Wal-Marts, Harris Teeter, Food Lions and Kmart because we wouldn’t pay a fee to distribute at those locations; such as having our newspapers concealed by one or two competing papers being placed strategically on top of our stacks; such as having several of our racks stolen."

He also shed light on the Sept. 24 fire. It was a combination of "a 50-year-old building, an overloaded surge protector, a propane line and several tons of tinder-dry antique furniture," he wrote.

Foster said it is possible SmartNews might return as a daily. "The cold hard reality of business forces us to step back a bit and increase our ad sales while reducing our costs. In time we can start adding back days, and regain our status as a daily newspaper. Those are days I look forward to."

Here's a link to an interview did with Foster in July, some six weeks after the paper started.