'News & Observer' Launches Free N.C. Paper

By: Jennifer Saba Starting Saturday, the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. will distribute a free weekly to about 50,000 households in the Durham area, according to president and publisher Orage Quarles III.

The 38-page broadsheet will be a stand-alone product with a staff of 11. The 10,000 Durham residents who subscribe to the News & Observer will also receive the new weekly. The paper plans to distribute 75,000 copies in a few weeks.

"We hope to provide more local, local news," Quarles said. "We're focusing on communities."

The Durham News is the News & Observer's fifth product (six if you include a section inserted in the main paper that goes to North Raleigh residents) that covers the area. The Chapel Hill News is the other free bi-weekly paper in the franchise that could go weekly soon, Quarles confirmed.

The launch of the free weekly comes shortly after the Rollins family sold the Durham hometown paper, The Sun-Herald, to Paxton Media. Quarles said that the McClatchy Co. (owner of the News & Observer) was one of the bidders for the Sun-Herald. He declined to say if McClatchy lost the bid or pulled out.

The timing of the product, which has been on the drawing board for a few years, coincides with a good economy and good advertising environment, Quarles said.


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