Canada’s latest free newspaper hit the streets of Halifax on Valentine’s Day, less than a week after Transcontinental Media shut down the Halifax Daily News.
Metro Halifax mirrors the format already familiar to readers in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal: short local stories on the first few pages, followed by national and international wire copy, with a mix of local and syndicated entertainment and sports coverage and no editorial page.
But the business model appears to differ significantly from the bigger-city editions of the international chain of free dailies. Metro targets public transportation commuters in most cities, and often relies on a local media partner for content.
In Toronto, for instance, Metro has exclusive rights to distribute in the subway system and it uses stories and photos from the Toronto Star. Metro will also operate in Halifax without a media partner to provide cheap editorial content and without a strong public transit system to boost distribution.
Metro Halifax started out with a print run almost 50 per cent higher than the 30-year-old daily that it replaced. The Halifax Daily News had roughly 16,000 subscribers when it folded. Metro printed 25,000 copies the first day and hired vendors wearing bright green aprons to give the paper away.
It also launched with far fewer reporters and editors. Only six of the Daily News staff were offered jobs at the new paper.
The paper is a partnership between Transcontinental, Torstar and Metro International S.A., the Swedish company that began the chain that now churns out 100 newspapers in 21 countries around the world.