A De-Pressing Silence for Bellingham

Yet another newspaper's press is expected to fall silent in the state this year when the Bellingham Herald begins publishing its paper at the plant of a competitor, the Skagit Valley Herald in Mount Vernon, 30 miles south. The Bellingham paper, owned by McClatchy (which owns the Tacoma News Tribune, Tri-City Herald, Daily Olympian and 49.5 percent of voting stock in the Seattle Times), this week also announced it was laying off ten staffers, reducing pay up to 5 percent for others, and will sell its once grand eight-story Herald building (circa 1925), then lease back space there for its offices.

The two Heralds compete for some of the same stories and readers in Skagit and Whatcom counties. But the SVH (circulation 17,000), owned by the Pioneer Newspapers chain, has an edge on efficiency with its new printing plant, offering an outsource savings to the BH even if papers have to be trucked as far as the Canadian border. (McClatchy has a similar agreement with Pioneer's Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa to print McClatchy's Idaho Statesman of Boise).The BH (21,500 circulation), which laid off 13 people last year, is growing its readership online, says publisher Glen Nardi. Of course that's the trend most everywhere in newspapers today - requiring fewer employees - and McClatchy has made similar cutbacks at all its papers in Washington and elsewhere.

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