Tuesday, October 18, 2005

In an Era of Declining Subscriptions Will Clarity Make a Difference?

Clarity Media Group will be offering a FREE local paper in Baltimore sometime next year. The paper will have an initial circulation of approximately 250,000 and according to the Miami Herald, "will focus on local news in addition to offering regional, national and international stories."

The move is interesting given that, according to the Wall Street Journal (requires subscription), Baltimore's current mainstream paper The Sun had an 11% fall in circulation over the past 6 months.

Living in Los Angeles, the topic of the health of the Los Angeles Times comes frequently into conversation. You can read some of Cathy Seipp's comments on the topic here and here, but make sure you read the comments section as well.

As we well know a number of conservative pundits, like Hugh Hewitt, have been prophesy-ing the death of the printed newspaper. Conservatives are not alone in this opinion, the chaps over at Penny-Arcade are fond of saying they don't like to talk about syndicated comic strips because extinct species are boring.

Personally, I think that deep coverage of local events (unlike the Times coverage of Rod Lurie say which they covered in their business section since that is where we all look for local entertainment news), good state capital coverage, sufficient national coverage, and a price tag of FREE is what most people are looking for in a newspaper. One of the features that keeps people coming to the online versions of Newspapers is the pricetag. The pricetag is also one of the reasons I read the LA Weekly (it also has much better LA coverage than the Times). In fact, when it comes to a good local paper I am very willing to read opinions I vastly disagree with if the paper is both topical and free.

I think Clarity Media Group may be on to something, but what do I know?

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