Mon, Dec 15, 2008 - Page 11 News List

Detroit newspapers likely to cut delivery

AP , DETROIT

Detroit’s two daily newspapers are leaning toward cutting home delivery to three days a week, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

The Journal, quoting a person on its Web site whom it didn’t name, said a final decision has not been made. But the newspaper says it’s the “leading scenario” due to be announced tomorrow at the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

The papers have separate newsrooms but their business operations are combined under the Detroit Media Partnership.

Leland Bassett, a spokesman for the partnership, said he could neither confirm nor deny the report.

“We do expect to announce a new, more dynamic business model, and the focus is on maintaining and strengthening two very strong and independent newspaper voices,” he said.

The Detroit market would be the largest in the US to lose seven-day home delivery if the strategy is adopted, said Rick Edmonds, a media analyst at The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Florida.

“I think doing nothing is really not an option,” said Edmonds, noting the industry-wide revenue slide.

But there are risks, he said, especially if staffs are cut and loyal print readers find that a redesigned paper is just a “shell” of the old version.

“For some people, the newspaper is part of their routine,” Edmonds. “Those folks are not going to be happy if it doesn’t come on Monday and Tuesday.”

The Journal said home delivery would be limited to Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with an “abbreviated” print edition available at newsstands on other days. Readers would also be directed to the papers’ Web sites.

The changes likely would mean major job cuts, the Journal said.

The Free Press, owned by Gannett Co, had a daily circulation of 314,554 at the end of March; 618,324 on Sunday. The News owned by MediaNews Group Inc, had daily circulation of 178,280. It does not publish a print edition on Sunday.

Bassett said the papers recognize the “tremendous importance of digital communication and finding ways to better deliver news and information to people in ways that are most convenient to them.”

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