Sunday, May 30, 2010

Detroit | Retreating, papers resume 7-day delivery

The Detroit newspapers will resume seven-day home delivery in some neighborhoods starting in about a month, reversing a closely-watched cost-cutting move last year that reduced delivery to just three days a week, Gannett's Detroit Free Press disclosed today.

The new "premium home-delivery" service will be handled by independent carriers in limited locations in metro Detroit and will be expanded over time, Freep Editor Paul Anger said in a note to readers in this morning's edition. Anger did not say how much the service would cost.

In the new program, the Freep and MediaNews Group's Detroit News will sell Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday newspapers to independent carriers, who will be able to set the price, time of delivery and other terms of service directly with readers, Anger said. The service's availability will depend on whether an area has an independent carrier in place.

Why? Postal threat, reader demand
Looking for ways to economize in Detroit's crumbling economy, both papers ended home delivery in March 2009 on all but three advertising-rich days: Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The Freep and the News continued printing scaled-back editions the other four days, which were sold only at newsstands and other retail locations. The papers also launched new digital editions. The cutback received widespread attention in the newspaper industry, where some observers said it could prompt other publishers to take similar steps.

Today, Anger cited two factors for the turnaround. The U.S. Postal Service is considering ending Saturday mail delivery nationwide. In Detroit, that would effect about 4,500 subscribers who pay a premium rate to get same-day delivery of Saturday's paper. Adding carrier delivery would continue service for many of those subscribers. The "most important" factor, according Anger: "We want to respond to all of our customers who have told us they want seven-day home delivery -- and value it enough to pay for it."

'I knew something was screwy'
It's unclear how long the Detroit Media Partnership has been considering the move; Anger's note did not provide details. The Gannett-controlled DMP is the joint operating agency that handles circulation, advertising sales and other business functions for the two papers; the dailies's two newsrooms are separate, competitive departments that produce editorial content for the Freep and the News.

The delivery move didn't surprise Anonymous@2:17 p.m., who first reported the move to Gannett Blog today: "I knew something was screwy when the News and Free Press started running their papers closer to 30 pages than the 24-25 we'd come to expect. Of course, the Detroit News is still usually reporting more 'news' on a daily basis -- ironic, since it's a MediaNews publication."

Indeed, the News reported the delivery shift on Friday, albeit in a one-paragraph item in a briefs package.

[Image: today's Freep, Newseum]


  1. This is a horrible move. People willing to pay premium prices for a newspaper live in wealthy, white communities. So they are the ones who will get the paper, while minorities won't. Newspapers should be for everyone at the same price, not the favored few.

  2. I totally agree.

    This is a horrible move. People willing to pay premium prices for Mercedes automobiles live in wealthy, white communities. So they are the ones who will get Mercedes automobiles, while minorities won't. Mercedes automobiles should be for everyone at the same price, not the favored few.

    Nice try. You might have sold people on the idea that those Freep racists were trying to keep minorities uninformed... save for the fact that Freep ain't the only place to get news in town. Oh, and that it's stupid.

    Save your racism accusations for where they are merited - calling it on bullshit like this dilutes the meaning and very real injury the word represents.

  3. While I think this is awful, I do think it has some merit. The Metropolitan Area does not have "concentrated population", it would ake sense to offer it in areas where lots of people subscribe to the paper. It makes no sense to have a carrier driving to one in every ten houses in the neighborhood, or in parts of the detroit to the only standing house on the block.

  4. We do need to examine closely these economic forces that are changing the newspaper business as some of us remember it. We have seen some strange developments in this recession, as some newspapers have chosen to cancel traditional coverage of some communities where circulation has been declining. Do we remain general interest newspapers, or are economics forcing us in some new direction that I don't yet understand?

  5. Have another scotch Hunke!

  6. It isn't racism, and it isn't new. We were always told to keep marketing campaigns out of low income areas, with the exception of when we needed a lot of orders fast to make a PS (then it was "Go get it, it's a cost of doing business).

    There was no effort to hide the approach. Advertisers wanted to see that their dollars were being re-invested in improving the demo profile, and we also wanted to maximize pay-up on expensive acquisition efforts.

    Not racism, just business.

  7. Magazines do this regularly. Live in a bad zip code, and magazines don't want your subscription. Live in a good zip code, and you will be beseiged with subcription offers and trials. Both Time and Newsweek have combed through their circulation lists to improve demographics with a narrower readership base. It's not racially motivated, but rather economic and demographic. Advertisers want young prosperous demographics because they are the ones who buy their stuff.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.