Seattle Papers Cut Delivery Area

By: Joe Strupp

More than 5,000 readers of The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer will not be able to get home delivery of their papers — or even buy them nearby — starting Feb. 1.

The circulation cutback will eliminate home-delivery and single-copy sales in a large portion of southwestern Washington state. It will affect 474 daily readers of the Times, 3,401 daily readers of the P-I, and 5,599 readers of the joint Sunday paper, which is produced by the Times editorial staff.

Times Chairman, CEO, and Publisher Frank A. Blethen, who heads the Seattle Times Co., which oversees business operations for both papers, said the reduction is needed to save about $1 million as the papers head into another tough economic year.

“We think Seattle is going to be hit harder than most cities by the recession in 2002,” said Blethen, citing the departure of Boeing Co. headquarters and other economic troubles in the city. He added that the Times lost money last year for the second year in a row.

“We are going to have readers upset,” P-I Publisher Roger Oglesby said. “But this is where we are financially.”

The money-saving measure comes at the end of a tumultuous two years for both papers that saw the Times go to morning from afternoon delivery in March 2000 and a bitter strike in November the same year that cost the papers advertising and circulation.

Times weekday circulation, which was 219,692 in September 1999, rose to 226,080 in September 2000 after its change in cycle, but fell to 219,941 last September as a result of the strike. The Sunday issue experienced a similar yo-yo effect, rising to 502,863 in 2000 from 500,044 in 1999, then falling to 478,612 last year. Over the same period, P-I weekday circulation sank steadily — 191,167 in 1999, 176,511 in 2000, and 169,105 last year.

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