Hot ‘new’ fad: Free dailies

Don Rogers

The newspaper industry is all atwitter over this new fad, free dailies. Never mind that in Vail, the “phenemon” is nearly a quarter of a century old.The March issue of Editor & Publisher, a trade glossy, ponders the lasting power of the freebies in some detail. It even manages to list the 11 in Colorado. That’s progress, considering that most reports on this “new” rage forget all about what one Jim Pavelich started in Vail as one sheet in 1981, or David Danforth’s Aspen Daily News in 1978, or Randy Miller’s Colorado Daily in Boulder in 1972. It took awhile to become today’s hot new hit.Of course, the E&P stories focus the incursion of free daily papers into the metropolitan markets. The mountain towns are far from there, in distance as well as mindset.So news of the long-term success in Colorado’s mountain towns has been slow to spread. Even with the various kings of newspaperland taking up second homes in these outer realms.Surely Tony Ridder has cracked open a Vail Daily from time to time during his ski vacations here. He’d be in a small, small minority if he hasn’t. You can bet that none of Knight-Ridder’s great papers enjoy 91 percent readership in their core markets. Our latest survey puts us there. Posh, you say? OK, the Colorado Northwest Council of Governments survey put the Vail Daily’s readership at 94 percent of the valley. That’s heady stuff.Free dailies everywhere have incredible potential, as Pavelich, Danforth and a few others have shown. Over decades now.Humbugs who doubt the staying power of freebies that do real news overlook this fact. But Ridder finally figured it out. He just bought Pavelich’s Palo Alto free papers and made Pavelich an exec. Well, it’s about time!D.R.Vail, Colorado

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