Free Daily Launches in San Francisco

By: Jennifer Saba

As Knight Ridder, McClatchy, MediaNews Group, and Hearst are busy shuffling around newspapers in the Bay Area, a new free daily hit the streets in San Francisco today.

The former publishers of the Palo Alto (Calif.) Daily News, Dave Price and Jim Pavelich, have started the San Francisco Daily. The paper is published Monday through Friday and circulates in the San Francisco neighborhoods of the Marina, Chestnut, Cow Hollow, North Beach, and Fillmore.

“Our focus is on local news and what’s happening in our neighborhoods, but we also want to include enough news from the rest of the world to make SF Daily a one-stop shop for people who want to be up-to-date,” Price said in a statement. “We don’t have a political agenda or a cause. Our purpose it to provide useful, unbiased information.”

The first issue, which was delivered this morning by Price, Pavelich, and their eight employees to area residents and businesses, was eight pages. The publishers plan to keep it to that size until they build up an advertising base.

The initial press run is 5,000 copies but Price said they hope to increase that to 7,000 by next week.

Price said they plan to hand-distribute the paper for a couple a months to introduce readers to the fledgling publication. “People feel a greater affinity for the paper when you hand it to them,” Price told E&P. The SF Daily will set up racks near stores, restaurants and other businesses.

The SF Daily has lots of company as a myriad of publishers fight for dominance of the area — including The San Francisco Examiner, a free home-delivered tabloid owned by Philip Anschutz.

“We’re not concerned with other papers in the market,” Price said.

The SF Daily, like the Palo Alto Daily News, is going after small businesses that typically can’t afford to advertise in larger metros. “We’ve encountered dozen of advertisers that don’t have any other outlet,” he explained.

Price and Pavelich, along with David Danforth, founded the Palo Alto Daily News in 1995. At first, the paper was greeted with skepticism but soon found its legs as it expanded to San Mateo, Redwood City, Los Gatos, Burlingame, and the East Bay soon growing its overall circulation to 59,000 copies.

In February 2005, Knight Ridder acquired the publications keeping Price and Pavelich on to board to manage the papers and explore expansion opportunities with the free daily concept.

However, when Knight Ridder came under fire by shareholders later that year in November, executives froze the budget for new plans. Price and Pavelich left Knight Ridder at the end of 2005 to develop more free dailies.

Last week, MediaNews Group announced it planned to purchase the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, The Monterey County Herald, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press from McClatchy. The $1 billion deal, which involves Hearst, Gannett, and Stephens Media, also includes the purchase of the Palo Alto Daily News and its sister publications.

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