By JACK WEATHERLY
A daily newspaper will debut in the fall to fill the void it says the ever-shrinking Commercial Appeal has left in the Memphis area news market.
The seven-days-a-week Daily Memphian has recruited some of the leading members of the Commercial Appeal staff.
Launching a metropolitan daily is a rarity in an era when many have labeled dailies as dinosaurs.
The nonprofit publication will be “fundamentally grounded in the tradition of printed journalism and the high standards that still exist in a lot of . . . digital news outlets,” Eric Barnes, publisher of existing Memphis Daily News and Memphis News, said in an article on the Daily News website on Monday.
The Daily News was originally a legal ads publication but in recent years has added news coverage.
The Daily Memphian is a separate entity from The Daily News and The Memphis News, the weekly compilation of The Daily News.
“There’s a real void in terms of high-quality local journalism that is grounded in the written word,” Barnes said in an interview before the announcement.
The news staff for the new publication stands at 27, with many of them coming from The Commercial Appeal, which has continued its contraction in the two years of ownership by Gannett.
The downward trend of the morning daily predates Gannett ownership. Scripps-Howard, which bought the paper in 1936 and bought the Journal Media Group, including HGTV and other television properties, then sold to Gannett in 2016.
Rick Edmonds, a faculty member of the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., said that while a startup faces a “tough” market, even as all-digital, some make it, including Austin, Texas-based Texas Tribune, which “has developed a good variety of revenue sources and is certainly solid now,” Edmonds said.
Mississippi Today, which was started in 2014 as a nonprofit digital paper, has a news staff of about 15.
The most notable signee for the news staff of The Memphian is Geoff Calkins, Commercial Appeal sports editor and columnist, which could doubly pay off. The Commercial Appeal is now printed in Jackson, Tenn, which means evening deadlines are early.
That means night game results don’t get in the day they are played. Night games such as for the University of Memphis, whose new head basketball coach, Penny Hardaway, former NBA and UM star, has created quite a stir in the basketball town.
Likewise, results from games played by the Pacific Coast League AAA Redbirds and he NBA Grizzlies and other sporting and nonsporting nighttime events fall victim to the early deadline.
Andy Cates, president and chairman of the board of Memphis Fourth Estate, the not-for-profit holding company, said it will seek the money from donors as “philanthropic venture capital” and said the effort has raised $6.5 million thus far.
Other board members include Edward Felsenthal, who was named editor and chief of Time magazine last year after being digital editor for the publication.
The Daily Memphian subscription rate will be $7 a month, the first month free.
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