I had a friend who sold for a "little weekly" newspaper in another city. You'd be surprised how much money that "little weekly" took off the table from some pretty major advertisers.
Every dollar they took was a dollar that was not going to other print publications in that city (either the major daily newspaper or other local print magazines/publications).
These "little weekly" papers can do a huge business just from restaurants and club/concert promoters. If you were promoting a concert, would you rather place an expensive print ad in a very broad older demographic newspaper or in a publication that is (1) free, (2) read by a younger crowd, and (3) is targeted towards people who are civicly, socially, and politically active. And probably cheaper than running a similar sized ad than the Blade...with the added effect that the ad lasts for a week in TFP, but maybe only a couple days in the Blade.
TFP established a really good foothold in the market. If the circulation numbers are there...and TFP seems to be doing well...then they start getting department stores, malls, etc. All dollars that could have gone to the Blade, but don't right now because TFP exists.
Absolutely they are a competitor...and therefore must be destroyed by whatever means necessary by the opponent. The Blade, like other daily newspapers, cannot suffer losing one red cent to any other print outlet. Here's a story from 2006 talking about the "grim forecast" for Block newspapers. You can't tell me things have gotten better for the Blade in this recession.
For a window on how things are going in 2011, here's another major publisher's 3rd quarter earnings ...down again.
The economic downturn has exacerbated the newspaper industryís challenges making money off the Internet as print readership and ad dollars shrink....McClatchy earned $9.4 million, or 11 cents per share, in the quarter that ended Sept. 25. Thatís down 21 percent from $11.9 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue fell 8 percent to $300 million from $328 million. Advertising revenue declined 10 percent. Earlier this week, The New York Times Co. and USA Today publisher Gannett Co. reported smaller drops in third-quarter ad revenue.