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Baltimore Examiner to fold

After several months on the block without finding a buyer, the Baltimore Examiner, a free daily, will cease publication on February 15.

The paper, launched two and a half years ago, had a Sunday circulation of 337,861, largely from home delivery. In a cost-cutting move last May, the paper ceased weekday delivery, except on Thursdays, and added the Sunday edition; on most days, the paper distributes 50,000 free copies to newsstands in the Baltimore area.

Clarity Media Group, owner of the Baltimore Examiner and sister publications in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, announced the closing to employees January 29. MediaPost reported that 90 people would be out of work after the closing.

In an attempt to boost ad revenue for the Baltimore Examiner, Clarity Media Group had attempted to link the paper’s advertising and marketing efforts with those of the healthier Washington Examiner. However, as Clarity CEO, Ryan McKibben, pointed out in a January 29 memo to Baltimore employees, “…while the Baltimore Examiner attracted some great and loyal advertisers, we were not able to gain the levels of revenue anticipated by linking together the two markets.”

“As a consequence,” he added, “without the joint marketing boost, it is not possible to maintain two major daily newspapers within a 50-mile distance and do justice to both publications.”

McKibben said that Clarity Media Group would focus on growing the Washington and San Francisco Examiners with major investments online and in print. The two remaining Examiner Web sites will be relaunched at the end of March, and the Washington Examiner is adding pages and columns to its print edition and hiring additional journalists and Web editors.

The closing of the Examiner will leave The Baltimore Sun the undisputed paper of record for the area. As of September 30, the Sun had an average paid Sunday circulation of 350,640. The Examiner was often cited as the conservative counterpart to the more liberal Sun.

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