The closure brings an end to the 117-year-old paper and its three small sister papers. Expectations of continued declines in print newspaper advertising outweighed savings from cuts, the company’s general manager said.
The Issaquah Press will print its final issue next month, ending the Eastside newspaper’s 117-year run and bringing the latest wave of job cuts to Seattle-area news outlets.
The Sammamish Review, the SnoValley Star and the Newcastle News will also cease publication in February. All are owned by the Issaquah Press Group, a subsidiary of The Seattle Times.
A total of 12 people will be laid off: seven newsroom employees, four in advertising, and one in operations, Charles Horton, general manager of the Issaquah Press, told staff members in a meeting Thursday.
Horton said the company spent months looking for tweaks to the business model that could keep the newspapers afloat. Ultimately, he said, expectations for a continued swoon in print newspaper advertising outweighed the savings they could expect with more cuts.
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“We’ve just been beaten up with those guys,” Horton said, referring to newspapers nationwide. “There just wasn’t enough expense to take out to offset those costs.”
The closures come as advertisers shift their spending toward digital and mobile audiences, often through ad networks overseen by digital advertising giants Google and Facebook instead of traditional media outlets.
In the past two months, NBC News shut down its Seattle-based Breaking News startup, Northwest Cable News aired its final broadcast amid layoffs there, and KOMO 4 cut several positions, including its investigative reporting team.
Cuts are also under way at The Seattle Times, where layoffs and buyouts are expected to see 23 newsroom staffers leave, as well as an unclear number of employees in other departments.
Advertising revenue at major newspaper chains fell 8 percent in 2015, despite a relatively healthy broader economy, a Pew analysis found. Analysts believe that trend continued last year.
The four papers slated to close next month are distributed free and have a combined circulation of more than 45,000, the company says.
The Seattle Times acquired the Issaquah Press in 1995, around the period the company scooped up newspapers in Yakima, Federal Way and Des Moines, as well as a chain of Maine newspapers.
The South Sound newspapers were shuttered in 1998, and Blethen Maine Newspapers was sold in 2009 during the recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis.
A spokeswoman for The Seattle Times, which is owned by the Blethen family, didn’t immediately comment on the Issaquah Press Group’s closing beyond a letter Horton sent to readers.