The Hearst Corp. to Launch San Antonio Faux-Alt

february 23, 2007  12:34 pm
AAN News has obtained this internal memo regarding the launch of 210SA, a "free young-adult newspaper" in San Antonio to be published by the San Antonio Express-News. In it, Executive Vice President and Editor Bob Rivard lays out key staffing and marketing plans for this "new weekly publication aimed at the 18-35-year-old reader." This marks the first foray into faux-alts for The Hearst Corp., parent company of the Express-News. The paper is set to launch Feb. 28.

Colleagues:

We are excited to announce the late February launch of 210SA, a new weekly publication aimed at the 18-35-year-old reader that will be distributed free at more than 600 single-copy sites throughout the metropolitan area. The weekly is not unlike other free young-adult newspapers, such as Red Eye in Chicago and Quick in Dallas. 210SA will focus on music, the Web, film, gaming, pop culture and trends in general, the arts, local nightlife and outdoor recreation. We'll draw on campus correspondents to report on life at local colleges and universities. In sum, it's a product designed to serve a market that otherwise has few alternatives for information in San Antonio.

We will follow the same model developed for Conexión, launched in May 2004, also a weekly featuring a blend of local and wire content and supported by paid advertising. 210SA will have its own small startup staff and solicit contributions from Express-News staffers and members of the local free-lance community, supplemented by wire service material aimed at this demographic. Conexión was immediately profitable and has continued to grow in terms of revenues and profits, and the editorial team has expanded from four to 10. We expect 210SA to enjoy the same fast start and sustained success.

Please join us in congratulating Julie Vera, who has been appointed editor of 210SA, effective Monday. Julie has been a key part of our Conexión team as deputy editor. She will be joined on 210SA by another colleague from Conexión, Joaquin Herrera, who will design the product; Clint Hale, from Sports, as the staff writer; and former Express-News news research intern Jennifer McInnis, now a staffer at Quick, as the copy editor. John Henrichs, who has been instrumental in helping to develop the 210SA prototype, will step out of his assistant news editor role two days a week on a TDY basis to assist Julie with the launch.

Julie will report to AME /Features Terry Scott Bertling, with continuing assistance from Arts & Entertainment Editor Jim Kiest. The resulting Express-News vacancies will be filled in due course. For the moment, the 210SA editorial staff will be housed on the fourth floor, between Sports and Neighbors. 210SA will include the hiring of a Web editor, but it has yet to be determined how or where the weekly will be hosted online. In the coming weeks, Julie will be speaking with many of you to discuss possible contributions as a story list and coverage strategies are formulated.

210SA is the latest in a series of niche product launches that, coupled with the recent acquisition of Prime Time Newspapers, reflect our overarching strategy under Publisher Tom Stephenson to grow horizontally -- that is, to continue the expansion of our portfolio of publications in print and online. This plan has helped us to transition nicely through a period where we have seen and continue to see a decline in single-copy circulation offset by strong growth in traffic at MySA.com and advertiser interest in and readership of our niche products. We are committed to maintaining the Express-News' position as the preeminent news and information source for the community, while expanding our audience and reach in the market through more targeted products.

We're painfully aware that many newspaper companies and individual newsrooms are in turmoil and facing uncertain futures. As we close a challenging but successful 2006 and begin work in this new year, we remain confident that our business strategy is a sound one that has afforded us remarkable stability, sustained growth that mirrors what is being experienced throughout the San Antonio economy, and strong prospects to stay the course.

The year 2007, before it is over, will prove to be a year that will require the newsroom and the MySA.com team to adopt new methods and approaches if we are going to enjoy continued expansion of our online audience and revenue. The pace of growth must accelerate. Online newspapers, in and of themselves, must become even more for the communities they serve. Hearst Newspapers is convening a meeting of its senior managers in New York next month and we expect to return with a more detailed blueprint of how we intend to move from the status quo online to the next stage.

I want to close this message by saying thank you to every member of the newsroom for your outstanding work in 2006. We might not have faced the kind of breaking news environment that we experienced in 2005, but we performed well across all departments and made progress on all fronts. It's a good team and its keeps getting better. The same can be said for our partners on the business side. Thanks to one and all.

Bob Rivard

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