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What’s in a name? 

When ownership of Detroit's two daily papers changed last year, the media conglomerates involved agreed on ending The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press joint weekend editions as soon the logistics could be worked out.

Both the Freep (sold by Knight Ridder and bought by Gannett) and the News (sold by Gannett and bought by Denver-based MediaNews Inc.) would publish separate Saturday issues, just as they do on weekdays. But Sundays would belong solely to Gannett's Freep.

What we didn't know was that, technically, there might not be a Sunday Detroit Free Press, either.

Sources at the Freep say the prototype front page for the solo Sunday edition to launch May 7 doesn't have the name of the paper's home city in the flag (that's a paper's front-page nameplate, for you civilians). If the prototype reflects what's going to land on front porches soon, the paper will simply be called the Sunday Free Press. The "Detroit" would be reinstated for weekday and Saturday editions.

The Free Press' public editor, John X. Miller, was unable to tell us the reasoning behind this before our press time.

But apparently the plan doesn't sit well with some of the rank-and-file at a paper that has more than 170 years of history in the city. "Some people are pretty burned about this," one source told us.

Presumably upset Freep staffers aren't feeling as burned as those at The News, which, for the first time since 1884, won't have any Sunday paper. But all may not be lost, thanks to a quirk in the joint operating agreement guiding operations at the papers. Under the deal, The News is entitled to one page of editorial and opinions in the Sunday edition. That stipulation, we're told, seems to still be in effect. So the Freep's Sunday op-ed section might be obligated to carry one page contributed by News staffers.

So, yes, The News' renowned local conservative Nolan Finley could soon be writing for the "liberal" Sunday Free Press. Which means News Hits will continue to have trouble digesting Sunday brunch.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or

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October 14, 2020

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