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NY Times reports on Palo Alto newspapers

New York Times reporter Miguel Helft writes in Sunday’s edition:
People in Palo Alto frequently call Dave Price a contrarian. While they typically mean it as a slam, Mr. Price, the co-founder and editor of the Palo Alto Daily Post, considers it a badge of honor.
“We are contrarian, but there are good reasons to be that way,” said Mr. Price, whose newspaper opposes just about everything that the city government does.
Mr. Price’s contrarian streak extends to his take on the newspaper business. He started The Daily Post in 2008, as the recession forced further cutbacks and closings at many of the nation’s already suffering newspapers. And in a time when most newspaper publishers spend much effort figuring out how to profit from the Web, The Daily Post is proudly print-only.
“Giving away news online is a dumb way to do business,” according to its Web site, which does not post any news.

Yet Mr. Price said the Daily Post broke even within a year. “Every month, revenue goes up,” he said.
Mr. Price is not the only one defying conventional journalism wisdom. Palo Alto, a highly wired Silicon Valley community, is, too.
At a time when many cities struggle to support one newspaper, Palo Alto has three: The Daily Post, The Daily News, which began publishing in 1995, and The Palo Alto Weekly, which has a daily online edition and has been around since 1979. …

This month, in the days after the crash of a small plane caused a 10-hour blackout in Palo Alto and killed three employees of Tesla Motors, the three papers, combined, published some 30 articles examining everything from the city’s response to the power grid’s connection with the city-run electric utility.
And in a city where laptops, iPhones and Kindles are standard issue, many residents still walk a block or two to pick up one of the city’s newspapers, all of which are free.
“It is phenomenal to go into a coffee shop in the morning and see people reading local newspapers,” said Ted Glasser, a professor of communications at Stanford. “These are manageable newspapers. You can read them in 15 or 20 minutes.” …


Photos: Top, The Daily Post’s Dave Price. Middle, Jay Thorwaldson, editor of Palo Alto Weekly, talking with Tyler Hanley, the online editor; Bottom, Daily News executive edtior Mario Dianda. All photos by Ramin Rahimian for the New York Times.

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