By: Mark Fitzgerald
At a time when many dailies are expanding their product line by launching free newspapers, the San Mateo County (Calif.) Times is taking an opposite tack. Last weekend, Times owner Alameda Newspaper Group (ANG) folded six giveaway weeklies to concentrate resources on the 35,189-circulation daily located south of San Francisco.
Shifting the resources of the weeklies to the daily is yet another piece in an overall strategy, Times Publisher Daniel S. Cruey Sr. told E&P. “We’ve actually been working on our overall daily product for the better part of a year,” he said. “We’ve given it more local focus. We’re the only one that provides total coverage of San Mateo County.” Cruey said no jobs will be lost because of move. The main original news content in the weeklies, a column by Carolyn Livengood, will be published in the daily, the Times (
Shut down were the Coastside Chronicle, Daly City Recorder, Millbrae Recorder-Progress, San Bruno Herald, South San Francisco Enterprise-Journal, and Times Weekend. The papers had little editorial content and were not serving readers’ needs, Cruey said. “Over the years, though we didn’t like to call them that, they’ve been basically TMCs (total market coverage products).”
The weeklies became less attractive as insert vehicles when the San Francisco Bay area ANG dailies, which are owned by Denver-based MediaNews Group Inc., entered a partnership to deliver ADVO’s Shopwise advertising package. “A lot of the business we would have carried in the weeklies fits better in Shopwise,” Cruey said.
Cruey said the decision to shutter the ANG weeklies was not influenced by the change in ownership of the San Francisco-based Independent community papers, which are distributed in parts of San Mateo County. In February, billionaire Philip Anschutz bought the twice-weeklies from the Fang family as part of his purchase of the San Francisco Examiner. “Actually no, it wasn’t. While there’s activity with some of the other papers in this area, it’s not affecting our strategy for the Times and serving the whole San Mateo market.”