Six-day, Free Tab Making Progress p. 17

By: Dorothy Giobbe A NEW PALO, Calif., daily has survived nearly six months and its owners believe it can go the distance.
The newspaper has gone from a start up of eight pages to 16-20, and a press run of 6,600, up from an initial 3,000.
The Palo Alto Daily News, a six-day, free tabloid, which hit the streets Dec. 8, was born largely through an MBA class project of one of its partners, Dave Danforth.
The News is owned by Danforth, Jim Pavelich and Dave Price, who do everything from sell ads to reporting. The paper also has an Associated Press wire, a syndicated comic page and a small classified section, which is growing.
Pavelich formerly published a daily paper in Vail, Colo., Danforth owned one in Aspen, and Prince was an editor for the Lorain, Ohio Morning Journal.
Danforth, while working for his MBA degree at Stanford University two years ago, did a feasibility study, which indicated that neighboring Palo Alto could support a small daily newspaper, he said. Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, Palo ALto has not had a daily since the Tribune Co. folded its Peninsula Times Tribune in March 1993. That paper mainly served Palo Alto and nearby Redwood City. Previously, Palo Alto had its own daily for many years, the Palo Alto Times.
The Peninsula Times Tribune was a merger of the Redwood City Tribune and the Palo Alto Times. Times Tribune circulation dropped from 66,000 in 1978 to 38,000 when it shut down. Media observers in the area attributed the decline partly to the merger, asserting that the Palo Alto Times had a clear community identity that was lost with the combination.
The San Jose Mercury News and the San Francisco Chronicle rushed in to fill the gap left by the Times Tribune with zoned editions, and the successful Palo Alto Weekly expanded to thrice weekly. The latter is free for single copies and home delivery.
Jerry Ceppos, executive editor of the Mercury News, which maintains a news bureau in downtown Palo Alto, said his paper's efforts there have been ""very successful.""
Palo Alto Weekly publisher Bill Johnson disagreed with Danforth's research findings.
"I wish themwell, but if we thought there was a viable market for a daily here, we would be publishing one,"" he said. ""Fewer than three households in 10 were reading the Times Tribune.""
Johnson said he did not see the new daily as a threat to his paper, adding,""If they cucceed, it won't be at our expense.""
Ceppos commented: ""We regard any paper in our area as competition.""
Meanwhile, the Daily News is moving ahead with big plans, Pavelich said. The trio has hired two full-time news staffers and are interviewing others. Price and Danforth cover stories themselves and Pavelich writes a column.
"We have no titles,"" quipped Danforth. ""We are simply desks one, two and three, although I also have volunteered to be the paper's mascot.""
The Daily News has acquired about more than 100 advertisers and has generally been well received by local retailers, Pavelich said.
The paper is about evenly divided between local and wire reports, but Pavelich indicated that will change in favor of home-grown stories.
"We are concentrating on Palo Alto itself,"" unlike other area papers that also cover nearby Peninsula communities, Pavelich said.
Daily News distribution is currently through business outlets and racks. As yet, there is no home delivery.
The paper has its business and editorial offices in downtown Palo Alto and is printed commercially in Livermore in the East Bay.
?(The upstart Palo Alto Daily News) [Photo & Caption]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here