Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Detroit said giving only 'guarded' reply on Web shift

In fresh speculation about the money-losing Detroit operations, alternative weekly Metro Times today says Gannett has made a "momentous decision" to deliver the Detroit Free Press only two or three days a week, soon after the first of the year.

But the weekly cites only two sources in its story: a "longtime staffer who seemed to be in a position to know," plus top editor Paul Anger's reportedly vague replies to Metro Times' questions.

The unidentified employee is quoted saying: "They would print it and put it in the boxes the other days, but otherwise encourage people to go to the Internet." The Freep would be home-delivered Thursday and Sunday, and perhaps one other day, Metro Times says; subscribers would be encouraged to turn to the paper's website.

Columnist Jack Lessenberry says he was "unable to nail this down further, but it sounded more definite than many of the constant rumors swirling about the fate of one or both Detroit dailies."

Metro Times reporter Sandra Svoboda contacted Anger, "who offered what can best be described as a 'guarded' response," Lessenberry says. Anger is quoted saying: "We're looking at all sorts of things. I think it's pretty safe to say we're going to print a newspaper."

Asked whether the print version would be scaled back, Anger is quoted saying: "I can't really say anything else. We are no different than anybody else in the country, and all of us better be looking at everything. . . . This is all a work in progress."

[Image: today's front page, Newseum]


  1. Oh, good grief. More rumors. Was his 'source' the janitorial staff. I find it HIGHLY unlikely that any staff member at the Freep would risk losing their job giving information to this guy. The Metro Times is a rag for allowing this kind of journalism. I understand he has an "opinion" column, but even opinion writers need to do better than this. He comes across like he has some sort of ax to grind with the paper. All this does is cause fear and I bet he gets a kick out of it. Anger said nothing to indicate this is happening. Just because he didn't say 'No we aren't doing that' doesn't mean they are.

  2. this is a true and has been in the works since July

  3. so where will the revenue come from? are subscribers supposed to fork over the same amount of dough for the privilege of web access to I certainly will NOT do that. Guaranteed circ numbers will drop, then ad revenue will too.

    Well, there's a hundred bucks a year that I can save anyway.

  4. While I respect his opinion in general, Lessenberry does seem to have an ax to grind with the dailies. He hasn't had anything good to say about either since at least the 1995 strike - except for briefly praising the Freep this year for breaking the mayoral scandal, then getting into a childish pissing match with one of the lead reporters. Take it with a grain of salt.

  5. Agree with Ivana Paper (cute). How are they going to get subscribers with only 3 days a week. This is bullcrap. Cite a real source and stop repeating stupid rumors. The paper would only lose circulation, then ad prices will drop, then the paper would fold. NO WAY this is true. Especially with 2 papers in town, do you really think the bigger Freep would allow the lowly News to go home delivery 7 days. Get real folks.

  6. 2:31 and all other doubters - this IS going to happen. Project Griffon is real and has been in the works since July. Everyone understands that they are risking the franchise but they are committed to going down this radical road. They are in the process of making roadtrips to key advertiser now and most of the large corps have already been notified.

  7. Project Griffin? like .... a creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle?

    Well, maybe the Lions are good for something after all, but you know what happens when farmers mate a donkey and a horse. Ya get a mule that never has any offspring, you just work it 'til it dies.

    Can't wait to see that nameplate. "Detroit Free News Almost Daily"


    Mr. Spock says, 'this is not logical'.

    Since when does mainstreaming include Vulcans? We're never going to be able to make our quota now.

  9. oops, you have to have looked at the Freep front page to get the 5:19 comment, sorry.

  10. since when has gannett and particularly Detroit been logical?

  11. A lot of people were paid lots of money to not only come up with this name "project griffon" based on a famous Detroit Shipwreck?! They also paid a 3rd party company (Ideo) mega bucks to come in and change their mindset and the company. Truth be told this is nothing more than Hunke hitting the snooze button on his flaming exit out of Detroit. This will sink the paper just like the ship. They picked this name intentionally because of the historic perspective? Here is one link to the infamous griffon ship but feel free to google it.

  12. The current plan is for both the Freep and the News. Home delivery Thur, Fri, Sun (Freep only on Sunday. News doesn't publish on Sunday's.) Smaller, single-copy papers on the other days. Home subscribers will also get access to e-editions.
    Possible announcement on Dec. 16th. Should be interesting to see how this pans out. Don't have high hopes.

  13. Don't talk smack about stuff you don't know about. At most papers, a ginormous percentage of profit comes in the Sunday paper. Thursday is usually the next day, if not Wednesday.

    So why print the other days? It's a pure business decision. And you can make the argument you're more attractive to advertisers because they can guarantee engagement with the paper that day. Not to mention that they're still delivering to willing recipients.

    And there's an enormous cost savings by not delivering the paper three or more days a week. Just enormous.

    It's actually a bold strategy that, despite your closed minds, hardly risks the franchise. In fact, it could save it.

    The one thing that surprises me is the production of a rack edition. They're going this far, why not dump the rack edition. Then you can lose a bunch of designers and copy editors, too -- more cost savings.

  14. Could be worse -- they could have called it Project Liger.


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