Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspaper 'Competition' Not a 'War.' (Market Share in Aspen, Colorado)

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Newspaper 'Competition' Not a 'War.' (Market Share in Aspen, Colorado)

Article excerpt

When Dave Danforth and two other free-lance journalists got toegher in an Italian restaurant in 1978, they came up with an idea that would lead to a daily newspaer battle in, of all places, Aspen, Colo., population around 6,000.

The idea was a daily, single-sheet mimeographed daily that has become a tabloid now running 28-32 pages six days a week. It is competing happily, Danforth would say, with the 109-year-old Aspen Times Daily which went from weekly to five days over three years ago.

Danforth, 41, a former stringer for the Denver Post and Time magazine, said his paper, the Aspen Daily News, started as a "wallposter, really."

"We didn't have any money to start a regular paper but we hit on something that was needed in Aspen -- another voice," he recalled.

Danforth, who also owns dailies in Conway and Berlin, N.H., claims the Times went daily in response to the News' success. Both are free morning tabloids, although the Times publishes a weekend edition that sells for 25 cents on the street.

Both Danforth and Times publisher Loren Jenkins shy away from calling their competition a newspaper war but it has all the aspects of one.

Their battleground is the posh ski and summer resort town of Aspen and Roaring Fork Valley, a 43-mile area taht stretches from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. Aspen's semipermanent population is about 6,000 but reaches approximately 35,000 during the ski season.

Danfoth and Jenkins say there is enough advertising revenue for both papers and circulation is not a problem because of free distirbution. The News calculates a circulation of 12,000, while the Times puts its number at about 10,000. Ad rates are kept low at both nespapers.

"We're doing just fine," said Jenkins, who added that he and Danforth are friends, "but we run different papers."

In any event, Aspen is most likely the smallest U.S. city with two competing dailies.

"We're combating the perception that daily newspapers are a dying breed," said Danforth. "The two dailies here are still going strong after almost four years. When you have a traditional newspaper war few people will spend money for both papers, but in Aspen you can read both. We can survive in the same way as restaurants or any other business in town."

Danforth conceded that the longer-established Times does a more thorough job of covering traditional beats such as police and City Hall and has better printing equipment. …

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