'Baltimore Sun' Launches Youth-Oriented 'b'
This strategy could help achieve substantial savings, provided the publication reaches its goal of roughly one-third user-generated content. Cost is a key consideration, as the Baltimore Sun and other papers owned by the Tribune Co. have been instructed to trim a total 400-500 staff.
"b" is the latest in a series of free tabloids for young adults launched by the Tribune Co. The Chicago Tribune publishes the popular RedEye, and the Los Angeles Times recently announced it will begin publishing a free weekly, Metromix Los Angeles, drawing content from the Times Web site of the same name.
With an initial circulation of 100,000, distributed at free newsstands, Metromix will target young, professional Angelenos with news and guides to culture and nightlife. Tribune Co. also owns a big stake in amNewYork, a free commuter daily distributed to New York City subway riders.
While they do not specifically target young adults, last August, the Chicago Tribune launched two weekly print editions spawned by triblocal.com, a local user-generated journalism site, that cover Chicago's West and Southwest suburbs, and include photos, stories and other content posted by readers on the Web site, as well as content from Triblocal's own editorial staff.
"b" faces some major obstacles, including competition from another free tabloid, the Examiner, published by the owners of the Washington Examiner. What's more, Baltimore doesn't have an extensive subway system, like New York and Washington, D.C.--meaning there's no ready audience of bored, easy-to-reach commuters.
Distribution will be key to whatever strategy is adopted. The Examiner is delivered free to homes, while "b" will probably be distributed via boxes or stands near public places with high traffic by young adults: coffee shops, bars and other nightlife venues.