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The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News are Michigan’s largest newspapers.

Under a 1987 joint operating agreement, the Detroit Media Partnership publishes, distributes, and sells advertising for both papers. The papers are owned separately and employ independent news staffs and websites. The two papers were not making money as of late 2009, though executives were optimistic about their profitability by the end of 2010.

The Free Press is owned by Gannett, who bought the paper from Knight Ridder in 2005 in the same deal in which it sold the News to the MediaNews Group. The Free Press, often known as the Freep, is the older and larger of Detroit’s daily newspapers, having launched in 1831.

The Daily News is owned by MediaNews, which bought the paper from Gannett in 2005. It was founded in 1873.

In 2009, the Free Press and News became two of the first papers to cut back from daily delivery in order to save money and emphasize the web, delivering the Free Press to homes three days a week and the News twice a week. The papers remain available at newsstands each day. The papers also introduced an e-edition of their non-print editions as part of the transition. The Detroit Free Press’ e-edition had about 100,000 readers as of 2010, giving it the second-highest  e-circulation that year, behind only the Wall Street Journal. That number had been surpassed by several other papers by 2012.

In May 2010, the papers announced they would restart daily home delivery in some areas through independent carriers.

The Free Press has won four Emmy awards for its video work, which it started in 2005. The Free Press produces a television news segment on a local station with stories written and produced by Free Press journalists.

Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
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Lessons from the Motor City: What New Orleans might expect when the printing presses slow — In 2009, The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News cut back to three days of home delivery a week. Three years later, their struggles continue....
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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: May 24, 2012.
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