The new tabloid and the site, both called Metromix Los Angeles, represent a push by the Times to finally get its hooks into the young-adult Angelinos who rarely buy the morning paper. "This is something for the Los Angeles Times that's really trying to reach a demo that we haven't before," said Rich Stepan, general manager for Metromix Los Angeles.
Metromix Los Angeles also showcases one way digital media can benefit the same print predecessors they simultaneously threaten. The site at losangeles.metromix.com helped build the Metromix brand, for example, and served as a continuous test issue of sorts for the new print concept.
"We've taken this out to them," Mr. Stepan said. "From our perspective, it's a resounding 'We want it.'''
Where to find it
The print edition of Metromix Los Angeles will be distributed every Wednesday on local college campuses, in grocery stores and on racks throughout major Los Angeles neighborhoods. Its initial circulation is estimated at 100,000.
The Chicago Tribune, which is a Times sibling in Zell's Tribune Co., publishes the free, daily RedEye for young commuters; RedEye was able to stave off a challenge from the Chicago Sun-Times in the form of Red Streak, now defunct.
In Los Angeles, the new entry from the Los Angeles Times will go up against L.A. Weekly, part of Village Voice Media.
The print version of Metromix Los Angeles got the green light because of newspaper publishers' conviction that local expertise is their chief advantage over electronic channels such as Google News.
"We're hyper-local," said Deb Vankin, editor of Metromix Los Angeles. "I've been in the industry for about 10 years covering these things in Los Angeles. I sort of handpicked who I thought would be the experts.
"I can say with certainty that we're in an age when the media landscape is saturated," Ms. Vankin added. "They want not everything at once but someone to curate it for them. What's great about Metromix is our print edition offers that, and if you want more, you can jump on the website."
These local, youth-skewed freebies aren't easy to get right. Last month Metro International, the Swedish publisher with free commuter dailies around the world, eliminated 27 jobs and made other cost cuts in New York, Philadelphia and Boston. An executive said the measures were part of a plan to make the U.S. operation finally profitable.