Express paper new to D.C.

Students may notice some blaringly yellow newsstands around campus. Within these bright boxes they'll find Express, a free Washington Post publication targeted at students, commuters and other "infrequent readers."

The tabloid-style format features color photographs and graphics and brief stories within about 20 to 24 pages.

"It's good in that it gives you a brief synopsis of what's going on, but I would recommend reading another news source if you're looking for the whole story," said Elizabeth Schaefer, a junior in the School of International Service.

Express Editor Dan Caccavaro said that the paper does not try to thoroughly cover issues.

"A paper of record has certain obligations. People expect to find the stories they're interested in and the stories they need to know about ... Because we're not a paper of record we don't try to do that, we have a certain freedom. We can lean toward things people want to know about more than what people need to know about," Caccavaro explained. "We include important things more briefly. Unless a traditional straight news story is so big we have to put it on the front of the page we'll push it back and put something more entertaining on the front."

School of Communication professor Rick Stack compared Express to local evening news programs.

"There are a lot of graphics, a lot of color, a lot of flash and trash. They go into maybe one story in depth, but it's really television come to the newsstand," Stack said. "I'm wondering if this is The Post's way of competing with USA Today and trying to get the attention of the subway rider."

While the publication targets Metro riders, competition did not drive its creation, according to Express General Manager Arnie Applebaum.

"It has nothing to do with USA Today. It has everything to do with broadening the reach of The Washington Post Company. USA Today only sells a tiny fraction of the papers that we do in Washington," Applebaum said. "We hand out more copies of Express than The Washington Times could ever hope to sell in a day. It's really not a competitive situation. It's more about presenting a different kind of paper."

Caccavaro said a number of features make Express a "different kind of paper."

"The Post does a lot of original, enterprising reporting. We use primarily wire copy, so we're packaging the news based on the day's events," he said. "We alert people to the key news developments, but for thorough investigation we direct them to The Post's coverage."

However, Applebaum said not all Express readers will follow up with The Washington Post to get the full coverage.

"Most of the folks I've talked to said they either don't read The Post on a regular basis or they read Express just on the Metro and continue to read The Post at their home or office. If you need The Washington Post for the in-depth and deep coverage ... you're not going to get it from Express," Applebaum said.

Express hit newsstands Aug. 4. and became popular among mass transit riders. Stack also believes the method of distribution (having hawkers distribute it for free at Metro stations) contributes to the paper's popularity.

"They can give it away because there's advertising in it. The news is a big business and obviously there's something in it for the person doing this," he said.

The Washington Post pushed for Express delivery around D.C. college campuses after Labor Day. An Express newsstand is located on the corner of Nebraska and New Mexico avenues across from the SIS building, and more will soon be on AU's campus, according to Applebaum.

Caccavaro hopes to add changes to Express in coming months.

"We're at a point where we're getting good at getting the paper out consistently and we've established our overall personality. I'd like to see us create a bit more community for Express readers," said Caccavaro.

While most agree that Express cannot give readers in-depth coverage of issues that other publications can, the consequence of that has been debated.

"The news is pervasive and this is another way for them to get the word out," Stack said.

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