Detroit Dailies Curtail Home Delivery

Detroit Free Press paperIn March, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News, published by Gannett and MediaNews Group under a joint operating agreement, will cut back home delivery from seven to just three days and two days a week, respectively. The reductions are part of a larger trend that will see more newspapers moving to less frequent publication, smaller editions and narrower distribution, according to newspaper analysts, who say the cutbacks are inevitable in the face of collapsing advertising revenue.

Under the new distribution arrangement, the Detroit Free Press will be delivered to subscribers' homes on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, while The Detroit News will be delivered only on Thursdays and Fridays. The newspapers will also be getting smaller. On the days when it is not delivered, the Detroit Free Press will produce a slimmed-down newsstand edition with just one section.



Earlier this month, E.W. Scripps hinted that it may close the Rocky Mountain News, one of two dailies serving the Denver metro area, if it does not find a buyer for the paper by mid-January. Like the Detroit Free Press, the Rocky Mountain News is published by Scripps under a joint operating agreement with MediaNews, which publishes the Denver Post.

Threats of newspaper closures have become more common over the last year: the Star-Ledger, based in Newark, retreated from the precipice at the last second when union holdouts agreed to more layoffs, and the Journal Register Co. said it may close up to 13 newspapers in Connecticut if it doesn't find buyers by Jan. 13. On that note, a report from Fitch Ratings warned that "more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010."

However, Ken Doctor, a newspaper analyst with Outsell Inc., does not expect closings to become common events. Rather, like the Detroit Free Press, "most of these newspapers are simply becoming small enterprises," he said, predicting "shrinking staff, shrinking of individual daily editions" and reductions in frequency. For example, the East Valley Tribune in Arizona recently cut back its publication schedule from seven days a week to four.

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