Having undergone a thorough makeover, Detroit's newspapers -- Detroit Free Press and Detroit News will not only sport a new look but will also undergo a change in their delivery system, effective Monday. The papers are cutting back their print operations in favor of online content.
The Detroit News is owned by MediaNews Group while Detroit Free Press is owned by Gannett Co. (GCI). The two major dailies are operated by Detroit Media Partnership, L.P.
David Hunke, Chief Executive Officer, Detroit Media Partnership and architect of the rapid transformation of the 175-year old eastern Michigan institutions, gave a speech Monday to the Detroit Economic Forum, addressing the uncoventional move.
We are fighting for our very survival, said Hunke. Its a franchise risk we are taking to save Pulitizer Prize winning newspapers.
We are convinced we are going to have two newspapers in Detroit, but ultimately the people of Detroit are going to decide, he conceded.
Though the Detroit News will continue to print a newspaper Monday through Saturday, the home delivery of the paper will be limited to only two days a week - on Thursdays and Fridays. On days when there is no home delivery, subscribers can have access to an electronic version of the newspaper, which will be a digital replica of the printed paper.
The online version of Detroit News will continue to be available at www.detnews.com or as a mobile version for Smartphones at m.detnews.com.
The Detroit News does not have a Sunday paper. On Sundays, subscribers will receive the Sunday Free Press, which includes The Detroit News' editorial page.
According to Detroit News, there will be a two-section paper on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, with a stand-alone Sports section every day. Thursday's paper will be a comprehensive six-section one, including a new separate commentary section. The monthly subscription rate of Detroit News is $12.00 in metro Detroit and $14.00 in the outstate area.
Detroit Free Press
Detroit Free Press, which is the largest daily newspaper in Detroit, has also curtailed home delivery to three days a week - on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, and is stepping up its electronic mode of distribution.
Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays are considered to be the most lucrative advertising days, which bring in about 80% of advertising revenue.
Gannett, which owns Detroit Free Press, has lost over 90% of its stock value. The stock closed Friday's trade at $2.57 on a volume of 4.1 million shares.
Dave Hunke, CEO of Detroit Media Partnership said that readers will find more local news quickly and easily and content that no other source in Michigan can provide in the redesigned Detroit Free Press and Detroit News.
The newsstand-only editions of Detroit News and Detroit Free Press will be available four days a week.
By limiting home delivery, the newspaper publishers expect to reduce the expenses on paper, ink and fuel for editions that generate less ad revenue.
The newspaper companies, already reeling under hemorrhaging advertising revenue and declining circulation, have been further battered by the current credit and liquidity crunch. For those hobbled by heavy debt loads, bankruptcy court has become the next stop. Some of the major newspaper publishers including Tribune Co., Star Tribune, Journal Register Co. and Philadelphia Newspapers LLC have now filed for bankruptcy.
With declining readership, the newspaper industry, which has been running out of ink lately, appears just plain doomed. The once favorable advertising environment has also run into a rough weather, hurting the revenue streams of the newspapers. Further lag in the newspaper industry in general is due to its spiraling costs predominantly for newsprint and personnel. In sharp contrast, online news media sources, which have siphoned off readers and advertisers from traditional newspaper media, operate at much lower capital thresholds.
Late last year, credit rating agency Fitch warned that more newspapers and newspaper groups will default on their debt, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010.
Taking into account, the challenges confronting the newspaper industry in the U.S, the future looks difficult to read.
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