Seattle Newspapers Warn of Ad Slump

By: Allison Linn, AP Business Writer

(AP) Citing a decline in advertising revenue sharpened by the terrorist attacks, The Seattle Times Co. said Tuesday it would not post a profit for the year, and its rival daily, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, warned it was likely to do the same.

The Times plans to selectively cut positions to reduce costs but it does not envision large-scale layoffs at this time, spokeswoman Kerry Coughlin said. The P-I said it does not plan layoffs either.

Newspapers throughout the country have been facing lower earnings and layoffs as a result of the general economic downturn. The advertising climate was made substantially worse by the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.

The Times, which is 50.5% owned by the Blethen family and 49.5% by Knight Ridder, had hoped before the attacks to return to profitability in 2002, Coughlin said, but that is now unlikely.

P-I Publisher and Editor Roger Oglesby said it was too early to say whether the P-I would turn a profit in 2002. As with many newspapers, the P-I beefed up its papers during the attacks.

“We’ve been focused on trying to cover the story the way it needs to be covered,” Oglesby said. “We haven’t really been focused on trying to reduce costs.”

The Times and the P-I also are still recovering from a lengthy newspaper strike that ended in January, which prompted the Times to reduce its staff through layoffs, attrition, and early retirement.

The two Seattle newspapers have competing newsrooms but share certain business functions, such as production, circulation, and advertising, under a joint operating agreement.

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