Suburban DC Publisher: Free Papers are the Future

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By: E&P Staff

James McDonald, the newly appointed publisher of Journal Newspapers, said Thursday that since there are so many media choices that are free, the newspaper industry will have to think seriously about following suit.

“If you want to keep readership up, free is the way,” McDonald told The Washington Post. “It’s really the model of the future.”

Journal Newspapers began handing out free editions to commuters in Northern Virginia last summer. McDonald, who takes his new position on Feb. 2, said he hasn’t decided yet on whether to expand the giveaway to Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, also considered suburbs of Washington.

McDonald said he has no immediate plans to launch a free Journal paper in the District, where the Washington Post now offers its Express free to commuters. For now, he said, the company is willing to focus on D.C.’s affluent suburbs to the north.

“I won’t say we’d never do that, but right now we’re going to focus on what we’ve got,” he said.

“We view this as a long-term proposition,” Christopher Ma, the publisher of Express, told the Post. “And we’re in it for the long haul — competition or no competition.”

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