While the business media frequently reports that newspapers are dying, the growth of free dailies is seldom mention. In fact we over looked this report last month in Crains New York, a business publication, that says free dailies are defying the trends in the newspaper industry.
Crains quotes "industry insiders" as saying Tribune's amNewYork does $18 million to $20 million a year in sales, and is making a profit. However, amNewYork gets a lot of help from Tribune's Newsday on Long Island. It piggybacks on Newsday's ad deals, carries some Newsday stories and uses the same printing plant.
Metro New York has had a tougher time in the Big Apple, partially because "its parent company's one-size-fits-all approach, which emphasizes a uniform design and wire service coverage," Crains says. "That didn't work in New York."
But Metro is beefing up its local coverage and the paper was projected to post revenue gains above 20 percent last year, its second year of double-digit growth, according to Publisher Daniel Magnus. Crains again quotes "insiders" as saying Metro's annual revenue is around $14 million and that it is losing as much as $500,000 a month.
"Magnus says that savings on paper and production have cut losses and that the paper is now 'flirting' with being profitable," Crains says.
Despite Metro's problems, Crains says free is here to stay. It quotes Colby Atwood, president of media consulting firm Borrell Associates, as saying: "Free is such an attractive price point ... I expect to see more free papers, not fewer."