Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

What stones: A Website-free newspaper launches

Posted on | May 28, 2008 | No Comments

In 1995, a spunky little newspaper popped up in Palo Alto, the Palo Alto Daily News. A sister publication served San Mateo as well. Tabloid, tightly edited and focusing keenly on local stories while giving readers a good snapshot of the larger world, the papers thrived. (In many ways, the papers reminded me of the Jasper (Ind.) Herald, which was a UPI client when I worked for the wire service in Indiana 20-something years ago. The only difference was The Herald had fluffy local stories but world-class photography. I mean world-class).
Anyway, the founders of the Daily News, James Pavelich and David Price, sold what grew into a small chain to a larger chain, Knight Ridder, in 2005. The papers ultimately wound up in the hands of Medianews.
Pavelich and and Price became ticked off when they felt their babies started to de-emphasize local news.
So they’re back it.
The New York Sun posts today of their latest venture, a newspaper–the Palo Alto Daily Post–in the heart of the Silicon Valley without an accompanying Website. How quaint. How ballsy. How inspiring.
Now this can’t be done just anywhere. Palo Alto has a fabulous demographic combination of college kids (Stanford), techies and rich homeowners, many of whom favor a good local paper. (And lord knows there’s news to cover, if you followed the children’s theater investigation debacle this year).

“You’ve got the most highly educated, technogically advantaged people there. They’re all drinking coffee — and reading the newspaper,” Pavelich told The Sun.

Does it work long term? That’s the $64,000 question. Ad sponsored print is not fashionable as we know. Local news, however, is not done very effectively (at least right now) online in most communities. Many local newspapers are thriving in this country, particularly middle America. My experience in commuting occasionally by ferry to San Francisco is that ferry riders are voracious readers of newspapers. But then again I come from a county that’s as economically well off as Palo Alto and has a huge percentage of college-educated professionals. Not your typical demographic, but a data point nevertheless.
So, here’s a toast to Pavelich and Price and to inspiring those of us who have been in the business for a long time to continue to harbor those dreams of moving to small communities in the coming years and getting back into the game.
(Tip of the hat to Wolfe’s Den for the Sun link!)

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No Responses to “What stones: A Website-free newspaper launches”

  1. Bev Barnett
    May 28th, 2008 @ 9:26 pm

    The new Palo Alto Daily Post may not have a Web site, but it does have a Wikipedia Page. Go figure.

  2. Loring Wirbel
    May 29th, 2008 @ 7:34 am

    I can understand being minimalist, having a simple site with subscription info, story-submission info, and maybe a headline or two, but no web site is an attempt to make a statement that is a disservice even to readers who love print. It’s like the Luddites behind “Plain” magazine who insist on no phones, mobile or landline. I admire people who are off the energy grid and maybe even don’t have electricity, I admire Luddites who limit their gadgets, but there comes a time after you have removed all modern means of communication where, unless you intend to be a solitary hermit who does not participate at all in the modern economy, your “purist” actions as a supposed media outlet are a disservice to customers.

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