Free daily BostonNOW abruptly closed, idling 52 full-time employees. According to a story in the final issue, the decision was driven by financial difficulties at the paper’s Icelandic parent. “[T]he tumult in foreign credit markets has forced a change in our original understanding and their focus now appears to be primarily upon their core retail holdings. North American media is not even a distant second,” the CEO said. The shutdown bucks a trend. Free dailies have been a growth market in the US and are enormously popular in Europe, where a greater percentage of the population uses public transportation. In fact, a new free daily called “b” just launched in Baltimore.

Grab Bag

Here are some interesting stories that have accumulated in our RSS readers but which we haven’t had the chance to publish over the last couple of weeks. They’re too good to overlook:

Author, professor and media expert Robert Picard posts an upbeat account of the state of traditional media industries on his blog. The way he sees it, media industries are changing and change is difficult to handle, but the need for robust mainstream media will exist for a long time, the economic picture isn’t nearly as dire as many people think and we all have reason to be optimistic.


The Daytona News-Journal is for sale. The paper, which is owned by News-Journal Corp., was put on the block after News-Journal lost a court appeal and was ordered to either pay Cox Enterprises $129 million or sell the newspaper. News-Journal is in no position to raise that kind of cash these days, so the paper goes on eBay. Or wherever they sell newspapers these days.


Alan Mutter sees a dark side to the Washington Post’s recent haul of a half-dozen Pulitzers: It’s one of the few newspapers that still has the resources to produce the kind of journalism that wins the prize. Quoting: “Sadly, only a shrinking handful of fortunate newspapers have a realistic hope of capturing the prize in the future.”


Via Editors Weblog: San Jose Mercury News designer Martin Gee has posted a photo documentary of the effects of several rounds of layoffs and buyouts in his California newsroom. It’s a sad human story told in pictures in which very few humans are present.


Illinois’ third largest daily is asking staffers to take off one unpaid day per month and is hinting at layoffs. The DailyHerald of suburban Chicago has been slammed by a 45% drop in help-wanted advertising, a 40% fall in real estate advertising and a 35% decline in ads associated with home improvement. Plus newsprint price increases are unwelcome.


In an interview with Forbes, TV newsman Tom Brokaw says, “I was at MIT yesterday with the best and brightest. There were about 15 students in the room with me, and I asked how many of them read a newspaper on a daily basis. Two hands went up. Then I asked how many watched the evening news on a nightly basis. No hands went up. And then I asked how many spend a lot of time during the day going to their PDA or computer to find out what’s going on, and every hand went up.”


It’s not a layoff, it’s an “accomplishment celebration!” At least that’s how the publisher of the Washington Times phrased it in a memo to his staff. John Solomon praised the staff for coming up with creative ideas to improve profitability but said it just wasn’t enough. Layoffs are coming, though he didn’t say how many.


The American Journalism Review posts an opinion by a newspaper consultant and former reporter who points out the futility of current cost-cutting efforts. “Can newspapers really expect to recapture what they have lost with less circulation, a thinner newspaper offering fewer services to readers, with editorial products undermined in breadth and depth by layoffs and space constrictions? I think not,” says John Morton, echoing similar comments by the late, great Molly Ivins. Morton notes that in the past, newspapers have been able to recover from downsizing initiatives because they had so little competition, but that just isn’t the case any more.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2008 at 7:46 am and is filed under BusinessModel, Demographics, Journalism, Layoffs, NewMedia, Newspapers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments Off on Free Boston Daily Closes, Citing Conditions in Iceland

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  1. April 15, 2008 @ 3:11 pm



    Another day of disastrous news across the industry. The Boston free paper closing is not surprising. It never had a chance in that market. In some ways, it’s amazing the Boston Herald is still in business. Multiple papers in big towns are just about finished.

    Posted by Newspaper Fan
  2. April 15, 2008 @ 4:16 pm



    […] Free Boston Daily Closes, Citing Conditions in Iceland at Newspaper Death Watch which also reports: “Illinois‘ third largest daily is asking staffers to take off one unpaid day per month and is hinting at layoffs.” […]