Debut of Three-Day-A-Week Home Delivery for Free Press, News, Not a Good One
Let's say you wanted to scan the Detroit Free Press today over your morning coffee. Or, maybe you were looking forward to sitting down with the Detroit News after getting the kids off to school.
You could, but you would have had to track down a coinbox or run out to a convenience store to find one. Or, you would've had to sit in front of your computer. And maybe that's the point.
Starting today, the Detroit papers will only be delivered to homes on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, when 82 percent of the papers' revenue is generated. The other days: you'll have to leave the house to grab a slimmed-down version of the papers or read it online.
Suffice to say, today was a bad day to end 7-day delivery. First, the Obama administration helps give GM CEO Rick Wagoner the boot. Then, Michigan State University makes it to the Final Four. In other words, the two topics -- autos and sports -- that matter the most in the Detroit area had diminished coverage on days when there were blockbuster developments.
To be sure, both papers acquitted themselves with the coverage of both stories online and have continued to update them as events unfolded. But the Freep and News are still newspapers more than they are Web sites, and you can hardly count on readers to switch from digital to print and back depending on the day.
Indeed, both papers could wind up drawing more readers online, as they get used to that routine. And that's a problem, given that online revenues, despite growing readership, still account for no more than 10 percent of a typical paper's ad revenue.
Printing three days a week could turn into no days a week. That's a story no one in Detroit should ever have to read about online.