This story was written by Joseph Tartakoff.
With its main daily print competitor shut down, The Seattle Times claims that it is now “starting to operate in the black,” according to a NYT report. That’s quite a contrast from earlier this year when there were rampant rumors that the newspaper was going to have to file for bankruptcy protection, even though the rival Seattle Post-Intelligencer was set to close.
On the revenue side, the company says its circulation has increased by 30 percent since the P-I shut down in mid-March. Under a joint operating agreement with the P-I, the Times sold ads for both papers and it has been able to maintain the same ad rates. The Times has also benefited from a series of cost cuts, including layoffs, mandatory furloughs and frozen pensions. Even the state has pitched in, cutting taxes for newspaper printers by about 40 percent.
Big challenges remain. The circulation increase itself is not too surprising considering that the Times somewhat controversially automatically switched P-I subscribers to its own paper. It will be worth watching how long these “new” subs keep paying up.
And in its digital business, the Times continues to face stiff competition. While P-I owner Hearst Corp. shut down the print operations of the P-I, it continues to operate the P-I website and Hearst tells the NYT that both traffic and revenue on the site are tracking above expectations.
Of course, the bounce that the Times has received from the P-I‘s closing is unlikely to be replicated in many other cities. As of December, there were only about 10 two-daily cities left in the United States.
By Joseph Tartakoff