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As major metros shrink, free dailies grow

While Singleton and Hearst lay off workers, free daily newspapers continue to sprout up. Free-Daily.com reports that the Tribune Co., which is cutting jobs at most of its papers, plans to launch a free daily in Baltimore on April 14. Tribune’s free dailies in Chicago (the RedEye) and New York (amNewYork) are making money, so why not have more?

The Baltimore paper would be the third free daily to launch this year so far.

In Salt Lake City, Dean Singleton’s paid daily started a free afternoon daily called The Buzz on Feb. 1. And in Halifax, Nova Scotia (we had to look at the map, too — it’s a seaport town in a Canadian province east of Maine) one of the town’s two paid papers was replaced by a free daily that started Feb. 14.

Free-Daily.com also reports that there are 67 free dailies in North America. A big jump from 1995 when there were just five.

The Bay Area is home to one of the earliest free dailies, the Palo Alto Daily News, founded in 1995. Others include the San Mateo Daily Journal (2000), the San Francisco Examiner (which went from paid to free in 2003), the San Francisco City Star (November 2006, held by Examiner owner Phil Anschutz) and the San Francisco Daily (May 2006). The SF Daily is owned by Palo Alto Daily News founders Dave Price and Jim Pavelich. They sold the Palo Alto Daily News in 2005 to Knight Ridder. (Full disclosure: Price is the Press Club’s webmaster.)

The big players in the U.S. free daily business are Tribune (RedEye in Chicago and amNewYork), Metro (with editions in N.Y., Boston and Chicago) and Anschutz (with Examiners in Baltimore, Washington and San Francisco). By the way, the three Metro papers are for sale.

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