Up in Detroit, they’re about to find out:
The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News are planning to stop home delivery most days of the week and print a pared-down version of their papers for newsstands on those days, according to people briefed on the plans. They will be the first major dailies in the country to take such drastic steps.
The papers will deliver to subscribers only on the most profitable days of the week — Sunday, and either Thursday or Friday or both, said these people, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the changes and the decisions were not final. On other days, they will still print slimmer single-copy editions. The changes will be accompanied by staff cuts, these people said.
The Free Press has weekday circulation of 298,000, the 20th-largest in the country, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and its Sunday edition ranks sixth, at 605,000.
The News, which does not print on Sundays, has weekday circulation of 178,000. As at other newspapers around the country, circulation at both has dropped steeply — a decline of about one-quarter since 2000 for The Free Press, and one-third for The News, which then was an evening paper.
Both Detroit papers have been selling readers what they call an electronic edition — a digital version of the paper, just as it appears in print, downloaded to a computer. But as with other papers, their content is also available free on their Web sites.
So, why would anyone sign up for the fancy “electronic version” when you can get it for free online ?
And why bother subscribing to a newspaper that only comes three days a week ?