BOLD TRANSFORMATION OF DETROIT FREE PRESS AND THE DETROIT NEWS LEAD NATION AND INDUSTRY WITH EXPANDED DIGITAL OFFERINGS; LAUNCH OF NEW MAGAZINE; COLORFUL, EASY-TO-USE NEWSSTAND EDITIONS
Changes Support the Continued Publication of Two Detroit Newspapers
DETROIT, Mich., December 16, 2008 - The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News announced today a sweeping set of strategic and innovative changes designed to better meet advertiser and reader needs in an era in which digital delivery is revolutionizing how people get information. These bold changes include a focus on more robust and more engaging digital delivery methods, and support the continued publication of two daily newspapers. The economics of the newspaper business demand change to survive.
The announcement was made by Dave Hunke, CEO of Detroit Media Partnership and Publisher of the Detroit Free Press, Paul Anger, Vice President/Editor of the Detroit Free Press, and Jonathan Wolman, Editor and Publisher of The Detroit News.
"The dynamics of delivering information to audiences has changed forever due to technology. Today, consumers are more empowered than ever before. In order to serve them well, we must find ways to be more nimble. That means we have to change the way we deliver that news - not just in subtle ways, but in fundamental ways," said Hunke.
Changes due to occur in first quarter 2009 include:
Expanding digital information channels that provide news and information to a variety of audiences when, where and how they want it.
Limiting newspaper home delivery to Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays while selling printed copies at newsstand seven days a week.
Providing subscribers daily access to electronic editions, exact copies of each day's printed newspapers.
"Our decision to limit home delivery to three days a week reflects the reality that major newspaper markets are facing daunting economic challenges. Advertising in this economy is down and costs are up. We can't live in the past. We need to shift resources to the digital side of our business, which readers and advertisers clearly are telling us is our future," Hunke said. "Ultimately, our commitment to the people of Michigan is to continue to be their premier source for news and information, no matter how they choose to receive it."
"We worked with IDEO, a global design company consistently ranked among the most innovative companies in the world, to understand how the people in metro Detroit use media," said Anger. Using their approach, which is grounded in understanding human needs, behaviors and social context, helped us connect with current media consumption trends. This research informed an initial series of prototypes to define new ways to provide value to Detroit area customers. "Our newsroom is looking forward to engaging our readers and continuing to innovate and evolve our offerings," Anger said.
"IDEO challenged some of the assumptions the media industry makes about how people want and desire news. We spoke to and observed a broad spectrum of people in their homes, at their places of work and in everyday settings and this guided the development of new offerings that will have a positive impact on southeastern Michigan," Hunke said.
Paul Anger said, "Free Press and freep.com audiences are turning to us now as the place to go for up-to-the-minute breaking news as well as the depth we provide. Only we provide the best of both worlds in print and digital media. It's a challenging and exciting time." The Detroit Free Press recently expanded its digital portfolio with deep and robust niche Web sites. Included are:
Detroit.metromix.com - a one-stop local entertainment guide on where to go and what to do in Detroit; from the hottest restaurants and bars to the latest in events, music and films.
MomsLikeMe.com - a dedicated site that allows mothers to connect, find support and share life's everyday details.
Highschoolsports.net - combined coverage by Free Press sports writers and local high school coaches, trainers and players that delivers the best source for fans of prep sports.
Jonathan Wolman said, "These changes will allow The News to build on its 135 years of journalism." "Our readers are busier and more mobile than ever, and we'll provide coverage of every aspect of activity in southeast Michigan, making use of all the aspects of interactive newsgathering," Wolman said. Detnews.com, winner of Editor & Publisher's 2008 Eppy Award for Best Designed Web site, has also been innovating, adding:
Ask the Pediatrician - a new blog launched just this week which answers questions about children's health issues.
The Green Life - a new section where readers can learn about green initiatives in their neighborhood and around the world.
On days without home delivery, readers will find new, compelling, easy-to-use editions of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News available on newsstands throughout Michigan. These editions are being designed to meet the changing needs of readers based on modern media habits. Sharply improved electronic editions of both newspapers will be available to all subscribers seven days a week. These are exact copies of each day's printed newspaper and can be easily navigated and printed from readers' computers.
A number of new product initiatives are under way. They include:
A new locally focused fashion magazine, StyleLine, debuted earlier this month. This new approach to fashion, beauty, health and home is distributed to a targeted audience in specific households. It is also sold on newsstands.
A vigorous planning process that will result in new digital offerings, greater use of audio and video technology, Web sites targeted at audiences with special interests, easier access to news as it happens, as well as more effective ways to access information from mobile devices.
Two Web sites, freep.com/transform and detnews.com/transform, have also been launched to gather input from readers, business owners and the general public, to keep them informed as these changes unfold and to facilitate further innovation.
A variety of local and national advertisers was consulted during the planning process and applauded this bold thinking. Some remarks made by these business leaders included:
"When Dave Hunke came out to tell me what they were doing, I was so intrigued I stopped him and called in my executive team so they could hear about the dramatic changes they were making. More businesses need to take unique approaches, especially in this economy. We saw some interesting ideas in what they presented and we are continuing the dialogue." -- Art Van Elslander, Chairman, Art Van Furniture
"...we think it's a bold move, it's innovative...and very exciting. We're here to work with the Detroit Media Partnership as they reshape, and transform into this new approach. As an advertiser, we're hoping to see this result in increased readership and commitment to the newspapers." -- Michael Shelby, Director of Advertising/Marketing, ABC Warehouse
"It's a part of the innovation, this bold new strategy takes Gorman's to a new level with our customers using new distribution channels while exploring a new digital platform. This is exciting, feels great, and goes a long way in preserving the viability of newspapers." -- Tom Lias, President, Gorman's Home Furnishings
"Your new format is a great step forward in adjusting to the way consumers want to receive news and information. We have made similar changes within our own industry and found our consumers both ready for and appreciative of our efforts. Developing a plan that allows you to shift resources to innovate, market and sell new products is the best way to thrive in today's market." -- Dan Elsea, President, Real Estate One
"I'm happy to start out with a new endeavor and new opportunity with the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News. I am intrigued by the innovative approach of combining various distribution methods for the newspapers, including the Internet. I also like the idea of delivering my ad online as it appears in the newspaper. Being a part of this new way of doing business is exciting." -- Dan Frost, President, Southfield Automotive Group
"We applaud Detroit Media Partnership for taking this forward-thinking, strategic approach and we appreciate their willingness to work with advertisers on their plan. Preserving audience and reaching the majoring of the market is very important to Dunham's and other advertisers and we look forward to working closely with them to find solutions that work." -- Ken Meehan, Executive Vice President of Merchandise, Dunham's Sports
"Consumers, businesses and the world around us are changing with blinding speed fueled by the Internet and exciting new digital media," Hunke said. "Reporters and editors from both newsrooms are seizing this opportunity to deliver an explosion of new content and design ideas that will keep two independent voices in the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News with a wealth of exclusive reporting."
Detroit Media Partnership, L.P. manages the business functions of the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News. As the largest newspapers in Michigan, with two of the most visited Web sites in the market, the Free Press and The News combine to reach a weekly audience of 2.1 million people; 56% of adults in this market see our products.* Detroit Media Partnership is also the advertising sales agent for the following suburban Detroit publications: Observer & Eccentric and Mirror Newspapers, Novi News, Milford Times, Northville Record, South Lyon Herald and Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. Gannett Co., Inc., owner of the Free Press, is the general partner in DMP; MediaNews Group, owner of The Detroit News, is the limited partner.
*SOURCE: 2008 Scarborough Report - August 2006 - July 2007 - Detroit DMA