Nasty business this journalism

Picked up the SFExaminer in my driveway to check on some local news and read that the Daily News, another local throwaway, is making cuts.

Here's some history.  The tabloid Daily News started out about a decade ago in Palo Alto, and had such success it started expanding.  Redwood City, San Carlos, San Mateo... all of them making money hand over fist.  It was so successful that it spawned a competitor in the San Mateo Daily Journal and the SF Examiner, after Hearst sold it, changed it's format and distribution model to match.  All these pubs were making money during the big media downturn.

Then the Daily News organization got bought by Knight Ridder, making the founders incredibly rich ... and things started going south almost immediately.  See the thing about the Daily News is it was a LOCAL daily on the Peninsula covering LOCAL news.  Something we didn't have.  They sold ads locally and ... here's the best part ... the website didn't have the local news.  They said on the website that the reason they were successful was because people READ THE NEWS IN PRINT and therefore people saw the ads in print, which made the print valuable.

When Knight Ridder bought the chain, they started posting the news online as well... and local advertising started to drop off.  Hmmm.  Lesson learned?  Not quite.

The guys that founded the Daily News Chain bided their time and waited until the non-compete clause expired.  They just recently launch the Palo Alto Daily Post, stealing the layout and masthead directly from the New York Daily Post, filling it with short local news stories with huge bold headlines and absolutely STUFFED with advertising.  They are making money again.

Yet the Daily News (no no longer owned by Knight Ridder but by the Media News Group out of Denver), while still ably covering local news, also has news on the website, lots of AP stuff and ... diminishing revenues.  The SF Examiner is stuffed with local Peninsula News as well and the Daily Journal has an active website.  For the sake of Journalism on the Peninsula I hope the lesson is well learned:

Local journalism thrives when it focuses on local issues.