Publishing vets set to launch newspaper in Detroit

AP News
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Posted: Nov 13, 2009 3:25 PM

Two veteran publishers said Friday they are prepared to launch a daily newspaper serving the Detroit area, where the two largest newspapers have reduced home delivery to survive in a struggling industry.

Brothers Mark and Gary Stern said Friday they'll start publishing the Detroit Daily Press on Nov. 23, selling it for 50 cents daily and $1 on Sundays. Home delivery starts Nov. 30 in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

The paper's 60 full-time employees, many with experience at Detroit newspapers, are using the former offices of The Daily Tribune of Royal Oak, which moved to the offices of sister publication The Macomb Daily.

"We are affordable, both to the advertiser and the reader," Mark Stern told The Associated Press before a news conference.

He said he and his brother called themselves out of retirement when they learned of the Detroit newspapers' plans to scale back home delivery. The brothers also said they seek to start more daily newspapers in other metro areas, focusing on places where papers have shut down or scaled back.

The Sterns ran daily newspapers in Detroit in 1964 and 1967; New York in 1978; and Minneapolis in 1980 when workers at those cities' major newspapers went on strike.

Mark Stern, 64, published weekly dining and entertainment publications for 22 years in Fort Lauderdale, where he now lives. Gary Stern, 67, now lives in the Atlanta area. The Sterns, both Detroit natives, say they will also maintain a residence in the area.

The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press in March reduced home delivery and increased electronic offerings. The idea was to cut printing and distribution costs while retaining full service on the days most popular with print advertisers.

The Sterns said their venture is privately funded but declined to reveal the size of their investment.

They announced plans for the Daily Press in June and hoped to be publishing within 60 days. Getting there was more difficult than they anticipated because of technological hurdles, Mark Stern said.

The Daily Press arrives at a time of broad declines for newspapers. Average daily circulation dropped 10.6 percent in the April-September period from the same six-month span in 2008, according to figures released last month by the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The average daily circulation of the Detroit Free Press, which reduced its home delivery to three days a week, declined 9.6 percent to 269,729. Circulation for The Detroit News, which dropped its home delivery to two days, dropped 5.9 percent to 167,849.

Two suburban dailies, The Oakland Press and The Macomb Daily, both saw circulation increases during the period. Their publisher, the Journal Register Co., emerged from bankruptcy protection in August after six months.

The Sterns say they can weather many financial struggles because they don't have overhead costs such as delivery trucks, pension funds or facilities. Advertising and editorial and production employees work for the paper, but not press operators or many in circulation. The Sterns have said they need 150,000 to break even and on Friday said they aim for 100,000 home-delivered copies and 100,000 in single-copy sales.


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