Palo Alto Weekly

Notes & Comments - July 9, 2008

Newspaper wars, again

by Don Kazak

Everywhere I've gone in the community the last few weeks, people have asked about the new Daily Post and what that's about.

It's about journalism getting more interesting and competitive once again in Palo Alto because Dave Price is back in town.

Price and partners Jim Pavelich and Dave Danforth started the Palo Alto Daily News in December 1995 and eventually started sister papers in Redwood City, San Mateo, Burlingame and Los Gatos. They later had a bitter split and Danforth pulled out.

The old Palo Alto Daily News, under Price's direction, was noted for its feistiness, which often infuriated public officials.

Former Palo Alto City Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell famously refused to speak to Daily News reporters because she said they twisted her meaning.

"They had a tabloid sensibility," Stanford journalism Professor Ted Glasser said. "Some of their stories were ill-founded, sensational and over-the-top."

But the paper became "an incredible success," Glasser said.

It was such a success in February 2005 that the Daily News group was purchased by Knight-Ridder Corp., publisher of the San Jose Mercury News, for $25 million.

Price said he had earlier offers from other newspaper companies.

He also had high hopes for the future of the Daily News group under Knight-Ridder, but that corporation, one of the most respected journalism companies in the country, imploded in a shareholder revolt and no longer exists.

Knight-Ridder's Bay Area newspapers, including the Daily News group, were bought by the Denver-based MediaNews.

The Mercury News has been savaged by layoffs and buyouts to its editorial staff and its parent company faces the same economic woes facing all newspapers with the loss of classified advertising (once a revenue engine for newspapers), leaving for online sites.

Just last week, the Los Angeles Times laid off 150 editorial employees and announced it would print fewer pages, while the San Francisco Chronicle is reportedly losing $1 million a week.

Price and Pavelich had a three-year "non-compete" clause in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in their sale to what was then Knight-Ridder.

When that clause expired, Price jumped back in and started the Daily Post.

He's been doing journalism since before then, too, starting a paper in Berkeley in 2005 that closed last year and starting a paper in San Francisco in 2006 which he is also running from the Daily Post's office on High Street in Palo Alto.

Price was convinced to come back to Palo Alto and start the Daily Post because he felt there was an opening for a third locally-focused newspaper to compete with the Daily News and the Weekly.

The Daily News laid off six editorial staff, none of them reporters, a week ago and stopped having a Monday edition as MediaNews bowed to financial pressures.

"The Merc and Daily News have never been weaker journalistically," Stanford's Glasser said. "There's been a sad diminution of quality at the Merc."

Can Palo Alto sustain three local newspapers?

Price thinks so.

His style of journalism can be offensive to people at times, with huge headlines and sometimes over-hyped stories, but he believes in what he does.

And he has made it work.

He's a journalist at heart, driven to report the news, which is something non-journalists may not understand.

It's like a gene. People either have it or they don't.

The old Daily News did ferret out stories that the Weekly or the Merc missed, and the same might be true again.

"We've always gotten stories others missed," Price said.

One oddity is that the Daily Post is not published online, which has been a major effort of almost all newspaper companies.

"We don't want to cannibalize our print edition for online," Price said.

But if he sees a model where newspapers can make money online, he said he'd be interested.

With three local papers competing for news, things are bound to be interesting.

Senior Staff Writer Don Kazak can be e-mailed at dkazak@paweekly.com. ?? ?? ?? ??

Comments

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 8, 2008 at 4:20 pm

I would hardly consider the PA Weekly as competitor in the local news market. The friday edition barely has any news--it is more like a giant ad section. the Wednesday edition is a bit better, but much of the news published there is old stuff. At least the Weekly has stopped being the cheering section for City Council--they now dare to criticize that august body
The only good thing going for the Weekly is their online forum


Posted by Walter E. Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 5:41 am

I would prefer that Price go on line, but can understand his reason. The Weekly is too much Palo Alto establishment and the Daily has become the Murky Turkey that drove me away. Editorials against drilling and the death penalty demonstrated the lack of reality inherent in libLud thinking.


Posted by Lois, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2008 at 7:24 am

The Weekly is a nothing establishment paper. The PA Daily is so anxious to attract readers from other Cities it is no longer interesting to PA readers.

But, hurrah! back comes Price, Diamond, Bothum et al, who have already produced some interesting articles and editorials with some bite to them. With all the controversies going on in this City right now, they have a lot of ammunition. The Daily Post will expand and improve with time.




Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2008 at 9:02 am

To me, the most useful advantage to the Weekly is that it is delivered to our doors for free. For this reason, I usually keep the recent copy around in case I want to see a movie time or need some old newspaper to put under kids' art projects. But the one big advantage is that you can sit and read it in a relaxed fashion anywhere in the house, or garden, or take it with you to read in the car when you know you may need to wait.

The Daily and the Post (the Post I have only read once) you need to pick up somewhere and unless I have a good reason to do so, I will pick it up and read if I am waiting somewhere and there is one handy.

Otherwise, for most news, I read the Weekly and the Daily online and I think that is the way it will work out ultimately. Because I am used to reading a print copy of a newspaper and one comes to my home, I do read it, and would probably miss it if it stopped coming. But, the others are not important to me unless I really want to go out and get another viewpoint. The one thing that does annoy me about the Weekly is that it is old news by the time it is delivered, so I hardly call it a newspaper, more a community magazine of what's going on rather than keeping me up to date with local current news.


Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 9, 2008 at 3:50 pm

I find it ironic and more than a little hilarious that people who seem to hate the Weekly are posting their comments on its website. Kind of like saying a band stinks and then buying tickets to one of their concerts.


Posted by D.Lampe, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2008 at 3:52 pm

A 50 year resident of Palo Alto - now retired to the Sequoias. Always kept up on Palo Alto News - Hate the Weekly and the old News now. Saw the Post when I was down at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic and fell in love with it - Just like old times. Any chance I can buy copies and have them sent to me or any chance you can somehow deliver them to the Sequoias in Portola Valley - There are a lot of us old Palo Altans here who miss the old TImes and would love your paper. Congratulations for printing it and writing the way you do. I've read everything about it on the internet, and it is very interesting that you are back in business.


Posted by Markus, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2009 at 4:39 am

I just read an article in the Post by Mr.l Porter. Aug 15 edition, front page.

The article had nothing to do with journalism - yellow press, tabloid or propaganda better describe it.

The Post also does not seem to have a "Letters to Editor" section, nor an online presence.

It might be entertaining.... but I will be cautious believing their "news".


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