Forget man bites dog — newspaper gives away ads

The San Diego Union-Tribune is now offering free print classifieds to individuals who have something to sell for less than $5,000.
OK, that’s amazing. I have never known a newspaper publisher to just give newsprint to someone else. The story, from the Union-Tribune itself, has some nice statistics about the decline of classifieds in the last few years and a discussion of the impact of Craigslist and eBay specifically. It also notes that ads from individuals provide less than five percent of the paper’s ad revenue.
The story quotes the paper’s ad director as saying “This is not a move out of desperation.” I think that’s probably true. But it’s only the beginning of the journey that the net is taking newspapers on.
Do the extra pages come out of the editorial or the advertising budget? Regardless of how it’s allocated, in the long run, it comes out of editorial.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.