‘Blade’ Vet Launches Free Weekly In Toledo

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

Stating that he wants to fill a void in the city’s newspaper offerings, former Toledo (Ohio) Blade Vice President and General Manager Thomas Pounds has launched a free weekly, the Toledo Free Press.

“It’s centered around economic and business development, but we still have sports, arts and entertainment,” Free Press Publisher Pounds said in a telephone interview Thursday, a day after the second issue appeared.

The tabloid has an initial distribution of 30,000 copies, with many distributed in arrangements with big local businesses. ProMedica, the hospital chain, is distributing the paper at all its offices, Pounds said. Fifth Third Bank and the insulation maker Owens Corning are giving the paper to employees, he added. “We’ve got almost 10,000 copies going just to employees, and the rest are going out the old fashioned way, at coffee shops and libraries,” he said.

Pounds and local private investors own the new paper.

In a market with the alternative weekly City Paper and business publications including the monthly Toledo Business Journal, the Toledo Free Press intends to stand out as a hard-news paper, Pounds said. “We’ve got people with a lot of newspaper experience … (unlike) a lot of these little weeklies are run by people who used to be in real estate.”

The editor is Michael S. Miller, a former City Paper editor who most recently was news editor for The Daily Telegram in Adrian, Mich. He oversees a staff of nine-plus freelancers.

With Toledo straddling a state line and Detroit broadcasting radio and TV loud and clear in the market, the Toledo Free Press basically sees everyone as a competitor, Pounds said. His Blade experience has helped the paper land advertisers who are not in the other publications, he said.

“If we can get the respect of the people we talk to, we’ll make it,” Pounds said.

“Look at the advertising we’ve already got,” he added, directing a reporter to the PDF version of the newspaper on its Web site, www.toledofreepress.com. “All those people bet on a ghost, and now they see what we’ve done.”

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