The look of newspapers to come: Free targeted Thursday and Sunday home delivery and free at the newsstand

By Mick Gregory

A street smart publishing group that started with a sweet deal from the former Hearst San Francisco Examiner has the business model that I predict will sweep the newspaper industry within the next decade.

Clarity Media Group, which ownes the free Examiner newspapers in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and San Francisco, plans to add a Sunday edition to each and expand the current Thursday editions, the company revealed Thursday.

Home delivery, which had been delivered each weekday, will be scaled back to only Thursday and Sunday, according to Clarity Media Group CEO Ryan McKibben. “We are shuffling assets that were of marginal value to better serve the reader pre-weekend and Sunday and on the web,” he told E&P. “They have the most opportunity and the most demand.”

The free Examiner papers are owned by the Anschutz Company, controlled by Denver-based billionaire Philip Anschutz, who launched them in 2004 with the first in San Francisco, followed by those in Washington and Baltimore in 2006. Ironically the Hearst company paid first the Fong family then, indirectly Anschutz to keep the Examiner a float for a while to please the FCC. For the record, Anschutz made his billions by selling right of way to fiber optic phone and cable companies on land that he bought cheaper than dirt from failed railroad lines.

McKibben said changes also will include doubling the number of single-copy papers circulated through newspaper racks and street distribution teams and offering home delivery of the Sunday and Thursday editions.

One other big change: the newspaper bias in these newspapers is toward the right of middle.
They are considered the FOX News of print.

“When the changes begin taking effect Sunday, July 13, the Examiner will be published in its three markets Monday-through–Friday and on Sunday and home-delivered on Thursday and Sunday,” a company statement read. “The Examiner’s internet presence continues to grow and mature. Newspaper websites associated with the Washington, Baltimore and San Francisco Examiners are being upgraded to better support local newsroom operations.”

“Through extensive discussions with our readers and advertisers we have been very pleased to learn how much they value the Examiner,” McKibben added in his statement. “Also emerging from these discussions were suggestions about what would make the Examiner even more relevant to them. Consumers and advertisers alike confirm the significant value provided by our subscription-free newspapers and the Examiners’ strong emphasis on local news.”