If newspapers are dying, it’s interesting to note that two free daily newspapers opened in March, another will open this week and a fourth could be on the way.
Billionaire Phil Anschutz (pictured), who bought the San Francisco Examiner from Florence Fang a couple of years ago, is planning to open a “Baltimore Examiner” on Wednesday (April 5) with an initial circulation of 250,000. Papers will be thrown on driveways in high-income neighborhoods and distributed in news boxes. Anschutz spokesman Jim Monaghan told E&P that the Balitmore Examiner won’t compete directly against the Tribune Co.-owned Baltimore Sun. “The audience we are looking for are not regular newspaper readers. We are going to the homes of people who may not be ardent newspaper readers.”
Working with a smaller budget is former Palo Alto Daily News managing editor Jeramy Gordon (pictured), 23, who started his own free daily in Santa Barbara on March 23. (Click on the paper to see a larger version of his first issue’s front page.) He has a staff three — himself, an ad rep and a reporter — and an initial circulation of 3,000. Yet he reports that every day he is selling more ads as he pushes toward break-even; on Friday (March 31) he had 13 paid ads.
In Florida on March 6, the St. Petersburg Times launched a free daily on the other side of that bay, called the Tampa Bay Times. The Tampa Tribune sued the new newspaper, arguing that it owned the word “Times” in Tampa because it was formed in 1982 as a result of the merger of the Tampa Morning Tribune and the afternoon Tampa Daily Times. A judge let the free daily use the name “Times” for the time being.
Meanwhile, somebody is planning to open a free daily in Raleigh, N.C. A blind want ad on Craigslist seeking writers for “a daily news operation publishing Monday through Friday to be opened in Raleigh later this year” got the staff of the McClatchy-owned News & Observer newspaper so worked up they did a 750-word story about the ad. Anschutz’s spokesman denies his company is going into Raleigh although they have registered the URL raleighexaminer.com. [Washington Post: Anschutz’s competitor in Baltimore prepares talking points for ad reps] [MediaLife Mag: Anschutz starts from scratch in Baltimore]