In a time when newspapers are struggling, the company behind The Daily News has decided to launch a free weekly newspaper.
"We are definitely taking a contrarian position," Daily News publisher Eric Barnes says of the upcoming Weekly News venture.
Barnes, who describes himself as an "addict" to the trade site Editorandpublisher.com, calls the news and commentary about declining advertising revenue and layoffs at newspapers a "litany of despair."
But Barnes isn't worried. While most newspapers are suffering, The Daily News, which has a circulation of 3,000, has managed to remain stable and, according to Barnes, even grow a bit.
"Five years ago, if I told someone I was editor for The Daily News, they didn't know what I was talking about," Barnes says. "Now people tell me they either pick up the paper, or they read it online."
So if The Daily News is growing in spite of industry trends, why launch another newspaper?
"We were asking ourselves how to capitalize on our growth," Barnes says. "There are some limitations for the daily. For starters, it's daily. It's here and then it's gone, and people want a little more shelf life for their ads."
"We also wanted a purely editorial product," Barnes says, noting that The Daily News is only a third editorial, with the rest of the paper divided between public records and public notices.
"People read those public records, and I can talk till I'm blue in the face about why advertising against that content is smart. But advertisers are always right, and they like to advertise against editorial," he says.
The Daily News is priced at a dollar a day at a time when people are coming to expect free content.
The Weekly News is slated to hit the streets on June 18th.
"We're shooting for about 10,000 [issues]," Barnes says, adding that 20 percent of the initial circulation will be forced circulation, or delivered directly to non-subscribers. Eighty percent will be available for free pickup at 150 distribution points around Memphis.
"Seventy-five percent of the weekly paper's editorial content will be lifted from the daily editions," Barnes says. Original content will fill the remaining 25 percent.
"We'll have a cover story, a restaurant review, and a cultural review of some kind. It's a real opportunity for us to do a lot more in-depth reporting," Barnes says, adding that most of The Weekly News' cover stories will be written by former Commercial Appeal reporter Bill Dries.