Saturday, March 17, 2007

Can Boston support four daily newspapers? Stay tuned April 17


Is NOW time for Hub free paper? New daily will use bloggers, videos as draw

By Jesse Noyes
Boston Herald Business Reporter

Thursday, March 15, 2007 - Updated: 09:20 AM EST

On April 17 another free daily will hit the streets of Boston.

And Boston NOW, the latest product coming from serial publisher
Russell Pergament, is aiming for the attention of the city.s 20 and
30-somethings - a group not well-known for carrying around newspapers.

Launching with a circulation of about 150,000, the new daily will swim
in a Hub sea of papers, including the Herald, The Boston Globe and the
Boston Metro. Then there.s the young-minded alternative weeklies the
Boston Phoenix and the Boston Weekly Dig.

With that much competition, media experts predict it will be tough for
Boston NOW to survive.

But Pergament thinks he knows how to make Boston Now work, even in a
crowded market with only so many ad dollars available.

Pergament, who helped start the Boston Metro and ran freebie daily AM
New York, said he plans to give readers an .unprecedented. amount of
access to the paper.s editorial content.

Editors are seeking out area bloggers to contribute content.
Compensation hasn.t been fully worked out, but contributors shouldn.t
expect big paychecks.

Pergament says Boston NOW.s Web site will have forums, polls, and a
video-sharing section called NOW Tribe, which is intended to be a
localized YouTube for Bostonians to post their clips.

Perhaps the most experimental aspect is the paper.s plan to webcast
its editorial meetings. While other newspapers have toyed with running
live video of their internal meetings on their Web sites, Boston NOW would
simultaneously host a message board allowing outsiders to chime in, pitch
story ideas and even volunteer their services, said John Wilpers, Boston
NOW.s editor in chief.

To keep from getting their top stories stolen by competitors the next
day.s lead article will likely not be mentioned during public meetings, he

Intriguing stuff. But will it turn online users into daily readers? seen no demonstrated connection, especially with a start-up, of
the kind of synergy that he.s looking for,. said Lou Ureneck, chairman of
Boston University.s journalism department.

Pergament said Boston NOW will churn out unique, local enterprise
stories every week from a small staff of reporters and let the wire
services cover the national news. It will carry a clean format, similiar
to AM New York, which Pergament said he.s emulating in several ways here.

He doesn.t plan to stop with the Hub. Pergament is chief executive of
a new entity called 365 Media USA, which plans to launch similar papers in
other markets.

With papers across the country struggling as ad revenues slip away
from print, and Boston taking a particularly hard hit, media experts
didn.t hold out much hope for the fledgling paper.

.I don.t think the prognosis is very good,. said Larry Grimes,
president of newspaper broker W.B. Grimes & Co.

But Pergament said the doom and gloom means it.s the perfect time to
strike. .We think Boston has hit bottom and it.s going to be coming back
strong,. he said.

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