The Washington Examiner, a free tabloid newspaper aimed at upscale readers, plans to launch today in the District and in the Maryland and Northern Virginia suburbs, replacing the Journal Newspapers and entering head-to-head competition with The Washington Post, the Washington Times and other publications.
The Examiner marks the latest attempt by Denver billionaire Philip F. Anschutz, who bought Journal Newspapers Inc. in September, to create a new model of newspaper aimed at readers who say they do not have time to read traditional broadsheets.
Using original content from a small editorial staff, wires and other features, the paper aims to produce a daily report that emphasizes shorter stories and bills itself as "the local newspaper with a bigger view of the world."
Anschutz is using the same strategy at his San Francisco Examiner, which he has transformed from a broadsheet to a free daily tabloid. If successful, he may take the model nationwide: In October, the Examiner's publisher, Clarity Media Inc., an Anschutz holding company, trademarked the Examiner name in at least 68 U.S. cities.
Anschutz's publishing gambit comes as daily newspapers are losing readers as more people turn to the Internet and cable television for news. Daily newspapers are seeking ways to respond to the changing demands and habits of consumers. Several publishing companies, including The Washington Post Co., have introduced free commuter dailies aimed at younger readers.
Even before the Examiner, The Post "has been focused for some time on studying changes in the paper to make it more appealing," said Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. Two of those changes debut today: a larger key to stories inside the paper and a front page that is "zoned," or customized by jurisdiction.
The Examiner publishers said they designed their paper in response to market research indicating that readers find daily papers too difficult to navigate.
"We're just out to provide the news in a format that's easier to read and that happens to be in a tabloid format," said publisher James McDonald. "That doesn't mean our market position will be same as the New York Post. There won't be any 'Headless Body Found in Topless Bar' headlines in our paper."
The Examiner will publish every day except Saturday and follow a distribution strategy known in the magazine industry as "controlled circulation" -- giving the publication away to a targeted group of readers who share common traits, typically high incomes.
The Examiner's distribution will focus on a target audience between ages 25 and 54 in households earning more than $75,000, according to a fact sheet distributed by the company.