The Baltimore Examiner is closing 30 months after it launched because of low revenues. The Examiner chain of free papers will keep its San Francisco and Washington editions going. Memo below:

[Baltimore was perhaps not the best market for the 'targeted home delivery' free paper model.]

UPDATE: Before you judge management harshly, keep in mind this consolation prize they gave the staff today, from an internal email:

Hi all! Pizza will be arriving for the entire staff around 1pm today.
Please save room :)

A tipster tells us an employee remarked, ""What a consolation! If they hadn't bought pizza for us every other week, we'd be running until AT LEAST March." Okay, on to the memo:

Dear Colleague,
Earlier today I met with many of our employees in Baltimore to explain that Clarity Media Group had reached the unfortunate conclusion that it must close the Baltimore Examiner. This very difficult decision comes after several months of very active, but unsuccessful efforts to find a buyer for the newspaper. I am writing you because I want to personally let know why we are forced to take this action.

In over thirty months since we launched the Baltimore Examiner you have helped build a strong and well regarded newspaper organization. Your good work has proven that a free paper, concentrating on local news, with a tight format and targeted home delivery could emerge as a credible daily newspaper. And our recent adjustment – going to two days a week home delivery and expanding single-copy circulation – has been well accepted by readers and advertisers alike.

However, as successful as we have been in generating strong news content and evolving an innovative distribution system, the “synergistic” revenue that we had counted on, by linking marketing and advertising between the Baltimore Examiner and our Washington newspaper, never reached projected levels. That is, while the Baltimore Examiner attracted some great and loyal advertisers, we were not able to gain the levels of revenue anticipated by linking together the two markets.

Clarity Media Group has been a patient investor for over the past two and one-half years. However, as the nation fell into a deep recession, it became clear that the projected synergies that were a key ingredient in our business plan would not be realized in the foreseeable future. As a consequence, without the joint marketing boost, it is not possible to maintain two major daily newspapers within a 50 mile distance and do justice to both publications.
Therefore, several months ago we very actively sought a buyer for the Baltimore Examiner so that we could concentrate our East Coast investments in the Washington Examiner ... and on the West Coast in the San Francisco Examiner.

Initially, we were optimistic that a qualified buyer could be found because of the strong assets of the newspaper, ranging from a hard working and professional group of employees to a local-centric focus that readers appreciated. We also felt that a buyer would be attracted to the market because the Baltimore Sun faced significant financial challenges. Over the course of three months, we worked with several potential local and national groups in the hopes of effecting a sale. But in the end, the economic dynamics that have ravaged the print media industry also prevented a sale of the Baltimore Examiner.

The last day of publication for the newspaper will be Sunday, February 15th. This is very disappointing for all of us. Obviously, it is not the outcome we envisioned when we launched the newspaper over thirty months ago.

You have our gratitude for your great work and professionalism. We will certainly do all that we can to help you in this difficult transition.


Ryan McKibben
President & CEO