A new free daily newspaper is scheduled to hit Portland newsstands later this month courtesy of a grassroots organizer.
The first issue of the Portland Daily Sun is in the works, with editor Curt Robinson, a former Washington, D.C., public affairs professional, at the helm. Robinson is partnering with the 16,000-circulation Conway Daily Sun of New Hampshire, another free daily, to fund and operate the publication, he told Mainebiz.
Upon his recent move to Portland to be closer to family, Robinson said he discovered a passionate, well-educated readership. "I sort of fell in love with the place," he said. "It's just such a perfect place if you don't hate winter." The city's dense, walking-friendly population should make for healthy rack distribution, and its vibrant entertainment and restaurant scene is ripe for stories, he said. "It's a pedestrian city if for no other reason than once you find a parking space, you don't move your car."
The paper, however, is about more than restaurant reviews. "We're a hard-news model, we have real reporters," he said. Robinson's experience with free dailies includes a stint as editor of the Aspen Daily News in Colorado and a more than 20-year career in journalism. Most recently, he was a partner at Qorvis Communications, an independent public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.
Robinson expects to employ a staff of 8 to 12 people, and said his team will use technology to keep costs down. "Our office is the coffeehouse," he said. The Portland Daily Sun will be available at hundreds of locations across the city by the end of the month. With advertisers considering new and cheaper options amid the recession, now is the perfect time to get a free newspaper off the ground, Robinson said. "Free dailies do well when times are difficult," he said.
This is not the first free daily paper launched in Portland in recent years. The Portland Morning Sun launched in October 2001, but only lasted 13 issues before it shut down.