No News isn't Necessarily Good News
I'm not breaking any news here when I inform you…the Detroit Daily Press is no more.
Over the weekend, the Ross Perot of Detroit newspapers made the obvious announcement that it would not resume publishing. It shut down unexpectedly in November, only one week after they first started the presses (although many staffers say it was clear that this thing looked doomed pretty early on).
According to the founders, veteran newspaper men Mark and Gary Stern:
"We've done everything possible to re-launch the Detroit Daily Press but the circulation issues persist," said Mark Stern, Co-publisher. "We tried to get union support and provide jobs. But the unions' demands would make it impossible for us to exist". …
"We tried to provide the Detroit area with a 7 day home delivered newspaper for 50 cents daily and $1.00 on Sundays while the other guys charge $1.00 daily and $1.50 on Sundays and they only deliver 3 days a week. And we set our advertising rates at only one-fourth of their rates. We could afford to do that because we don't have the fixed costs they do for owning presses, big buildings, trucks, pension funds and outstanding debt. But even the best newspaper at an affordable price to both the readers and advertisers can't work if it doesn't get into the hands of the public. And circulation is the key issue," added Mark Stern.
Crain's Detroit and its fine blogger Bill Shea got an extra comment out of the Sterns:
UPDATE: I got this additional statement from Mark Stern -- "We certainly gave this our best shot having put 7 months into it and several hundred thousand dollars. I don't want to get into the union issues at this time and, yes, all staffers were paid in full (minus a couple of freelancers who were never authorized by us in the first place). We're 6 and 1 now (a lot better than the Lions). We'll be publishing again in the future under the right circumstances."
Detroit is great in part because it is a two-newspaper town. Every day, readers get to see the debate between an editorial staff that leans a little bit Left and another that leans a little Right (these days, I admits it's hard to tell which is which).
Even after the Joint Operating Agreement – I won't go into the history here; Google it if you're interested – and nearly everyone assuming the two papers are written by the same people, I still love that there are multiple voices around to tackle the many and varied topics around the city.
A third voice would have been fantastic – another group to find the good and the bad around Metro Detroit. I would have subscribed; maybe if more of us had done so the Daily Press could have made it. Doubtful, I know.
Friends of mine who worked there say many freelancers were not paid; lawsuits may follow. Updates to come.
At least we have our memories – at least, in the digital world. Its Web site is still up. Its Facebook page is still going, but it hasn't been updated since Dec. 3. Yet their 1,100 fans are still hanging in; no news on whether anyone has “de-Friended” them for failing to return.