The Tacoma News Tribune said it will lay off dozens of employees next year, a result of its decision to shut down its 45-year-old printing press and as its parent company copes with falling revenue.
The newspaper will cut 67 jobs as of Feb. 3, according to a notice sent to the state Employment Security Department. They’re planned to continue through Sept. 1, and don’t include newsroom positions, Publisher David Zeeck said in a phone interview. Around 26 of the affected employees are full-time staff and the rest work part-time hours, he said.
The affected positions are related to the company’s recent decision to outsource printing and ad-inserting to other printers in the region early next year, Zeeck said. That decision was announced in a News Tribune article last week, in which Zeeck said affected employees will receive severance payments, continued company-subsidized health care benefits and outplacement support.
The News Tribune, which has undergone several rounds of layoffs and buyouts, is owned by the McClatchy Company, which has struggled with revenue drops and decreasing value in the past few years, according to The Poynter Institute.
McClatchy’s digital-focus strategy for the Tacoma newspaper doesn’t appear to have paid off yet. While there are more than 300,000 households in Pierce County, according to the most recent Census data, The News Tribune has only slightly more than 5,000 digital subscribers, Zeeck said.
In the article, Zeeck said the decision to shut down the press would reduce printing costs and allow the company to concentrate on local reporting and advertising.
The layoffs are the latest sign of financial troubles that have hit news outlets nationally and in the Seattle region. Early in 2017, The Seattle Times announced it was cutting nearly two dozen newsroom jobs through buyouts and layoffs. The newspaper also closed one of its publications, The Issaquah Press.
Local publications have seen continued difficulty this year. In April, SeattlePI.com cut almost half of its staff, including all of its leadership. City Arts Magazine, which covered art in Tacoma and Seattle, announced it would cease publication in November. The magazine had relied on crowdfunding to stay alive after being dropped by its former parent company. KUOW laid off seven staffers in April as part of a restructuring effort, although it announced that seven different positions would be created.
Publications that will be impacted by closure of The News Tribune’s press include The Olympian and The Bellingham Herald, both of which are produced at the plant in Tacoma.