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Two dailies close and shift strategies

Phil Hands writes in to alert us to the news that The Capital Times in Wisconsin has announced that they will be ending their daily version of their newspaper and replacing it with their web site. The paper will continue to print a twice weekly tabloid and expand it’s circulation to about 80,000 (currently under 20,000).

“Moving our resources to the web is the wave of the future,” Zweifel added. “Thousands of readers are already using captimes.com and, frankly, we’re often blown away by the volume of responses we get to columns and stories at a time when we’re devoting limited resources to the site. Putting the full force our newsroom on the site will extend the reach and relevance of The Capital Times for years and years to come.”

The paper will cut the number of employees as it scales down.

The Halifax Daily News announced that it was shutting down and laying off more than 92 employees as it transitions to a free daily tabloid called Metro Halifax. According to Journalista!, the lay-off includes award winning editorial cartoonist Michael de Adder.

Marc-Noel Ouellette, senior vice-president with the parent company Transcontinental:

“It’s financial. We bought this paper within a group of papers years ago and it has been losing money ever since.”

He also mentions that the Metro will be “smaller and have less emphasis on original, local news, and be targeted at a hip and trendy audience.”

These two papers are following trends that I wrote about back September that there would be a growing number of free dailies (usually in a commuter friendly tabloid size) and that the internet is going “kill of bloated papers.”

Community Comments

#1 Dawn Douglass
February/13/2008
@ 1:33 pm

SIGH

Unfortunately, the worse is yet to come.

#2 Charles Brubaker
February/13/2008
@ 4:15 pm

Free dailies are something that I’ve been paying attention with interest to for the past few years. It seems that, unlike most paid dailies, they actually do try to attract younger readers and also try to focus more on local contents.

It’s basically an alt-newspaper that comes out 5 or 6 times a week, one of the differences being that free-dailies focus more on actual news then arts and entertainment that most alt-weeklies focus on.

As far as comic strips, though, that gets spotty. Some free dailies runs about 5 or 6 syndicated strips (Nashville City Paper has the honor of being one of the 12 papers that ran “Franklin Fibbs”). Colorado Daily runs “Falling Rock National Park” by Josh Shalek. “It’s All About You” started in the NY Metro before getting picked up for syndication; Tom Hart’s “Hutch Owen” currently runs in that paper. I came across an article from Summit Daily News (CO) that says they run a strip called “County Commons” by a local cartoonist (Unfortunately, no other info on the strip can be found on the ‘net)

Other free dailies, however, opt to not run any comics at all.

#3 Sandra Lundy
February/13/2008
@ 5:22 pm

Note the third reader comment at the Capital Times link:

“Katrina says:

How am I gonna read the comics?”

#4 josh shalek
February/14/2008
@ 10:38 am

Thanks for that mention, Charles. Free dailies are a lifesaver for a cartoonist who is not yet nationally syndicated. You get read, get a little feedback.

I compare it to playing triple-A baseball. You’re riding on a bus instead of a jet, but at least you get to play.

#5 Stacy Curtis
February/15/2008
@ 2:42 am

The (weekly) Chicago Reader runs lots of alternative comics despite weak competition from The Chicago Tribune’s “Red Eye” and The Chicago Sun-Times’ “Red Streak,” which are both daily alternative tabloid papers that run syndicated comics that can also be found in the Tribune and Sun-Times.

Here’s a piece from 2002 when the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times launched their version of an alternative paper:

“The RedEye will be the newspaper equivalent of the middle-aged bald guy with a ponytail,” Richard Karpel, executive director of AAN, tells Shirley Leung, a Wall Street Journal reporter. Leung looks at the precipitous flight of younger readers from daily newspapers and the checkered history of their attempts to recapture them. Chicago Reader Editor Alison True questions the entire strategy of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times, which both launched youth-oriented weekday tabloids this week, RedEye and Red Streak, respectively. “Younger readers don’t pick up a daily, so let’s give them a daily?” True asks.

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