- The Washington Times - Monday, October 17, 2005


Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, owner of the Washington Examiner, is planning to expand to Baltimore.

The Baltimore Examiner, scheduled to be distributed free in the spring, will be a Monday-through-Saturday tabloid concentrating on local news while running international and national stories. It will have a starting circulation of 250,000 copies and will be distributed to homes as well as to vendors and news racks, Clarity Media Group said.

“The intense focus will be on unabashedly local news,” Publisher Michael Phelps said yesterday. “It’s aimed at the time-starved reader.”

The announcement comes about seven months after Mr. Anschutz’s Clarity Media started the Washington Examiner from three suburban newspapers bought from Journal Newspapers Inc. In 2004, it bought the San Francisco Examiner and two Bay Area twice-weekly independent newspapers.

Although free newspapers have been around for decades, the concept has changed as readership has declined. Today, they range from traditional world-to-local news to niche publications.

Media analyst John Morton of Morton Research Inc. in Silver Spring, said Clarity Media’s experimental stage occurred in the highly competitive Washington market. “The fact that they are going forward in Baltimore suggests that they’re satisfied with the impact they’ve made in Washington,” he said.

However, it is difficult to tell how successful the papers have been because the privately held company does not release financial results, he said.

The Baltimore Examiner will enter the market against the Baltimore Sun and a number of suburban newspapers, Mr. Morton said.

Alonza Williams, public affairs manager with the Sun, which has a daily paid circulation of 271,000 and 462,000 on Sundays, said the paper is not worried about potential competition.

“The Sun is Maryland’s newspaper. We serve more than 1.2 million people every week. We don’t feel that an out-of-town tabloid that’s dropped off free and littering people’s driveways will have any long-term effects on our relationship with our readers and advertisers.”

Mr. Phelps considers his competition to be numerous providers of news and advertising. “I don’t see us being head to head against the Sun,” he said.

The Baltimore Examiner will target neighborhoods both geographically and demographically. “We’ll be working as hard as we can to reach those readers with discretionary income that are of interest to the advertisers we plan to sell ads to,” Mr. Phelps said.

It will be printed at a Baltimore facility, he said. Still to be decided is the size of the reporting staff.

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