New daily paper makes D.C. debut

The Washington Post and The Washington Times may need to look out – there’s a new daily newspaper on the block.

On Feb. 1, the Washington Examiner, a 60-page, free tabloid publication, began distribution throughout the metropolitan area. It relies solely on advertising for profit and is being placed in 1,400 newspaper stands throughout the city.

Denver billionaire Philip F. Anschutz, who bought Journal Newspaper Inc., a suburban chain in Northern Virginia, owns the Examiner. The 260,000-circulation paper, which publishes Sunday through Friday, will consist of content from a small editorial staff focusing on local news, features and wire reports.

The paper prints shorter stories similar to those in The Post’s free tabloid, Express. The stories are aimed at readers who say they no longer have time to read traditional newspapers and have been turning to the Internet and cable television for their daily news.

“It is more functional for readers and easier to use,” Examiner publisher James McDonald said. “It has much more value today … and is more desirable to advertisers to have their ads on every page. We are taking a business approach to this.”

The paper’s editors plan to give readers a format different from their competition by combining the elements of traditional newspapers and daily tabloids. It is also delivering papers to homes free of charge.

“We are extremely different from the other (newspapers),” McDonald said. “We are a complete newspaper with a local staff … We have a full editorial section and have home distribution as opposed to relying solely on newsstands.”

Although McDonald also said the Examiner’s stories are “not from the wires,” the newspaper’s first issue carried dozens of stories from The Associated Press and the San Francisco Examiner, which Anschutz also owns.

Anschutz, 65, is the founder and controlling shareholder in Qwest Communications. He also owns a part of six U.S. soccer teams, the Los Angeles Lakers, Union Pacific Railroad and Regal Entertainment Group, the nation’s largest movie theater chain.

The new daily paper is attempting to challenge The Post, which in the past has dealt with competing papers by buying them out and rolling out the Express last year.

Post officials said they welcome the competition and are not worried about the threat of a new rival.

“Competition is always healthy,” Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie said. “I’m a little unsure about the Examiner though because despite saying they have original reporting, there have been relatively few local stories. There are mostly just wire stories.”

Downie also said he was confused by the market in which the Examiner is distributing. The Examiner’s target audience is between the ages of 25 and 54 in households earning more than $75,000 a year.

Of the initial 260,000-paper distribution, wealthy Maryland and Virginia counties will receive more 225,000 copies, according to a Post article. D.C.’s 570,000 residents, most of whom live in lower income homes, will receive just more than 30,000 copies. The remaining 5,000 will be available in the city’s newspaper boxes.

“We have very demanding readers who expect original writing,” Downie said. “Why it’s being delivered to upscale residents I don’t know. That’s our best readership.”

Despite choosing a specific audience, McDonald said his paper would not have partisan undertones.

He said, “We follow the model of common sense and don’t let our leanings get in the way of any particular issue.”

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