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Updated Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 08:16 PM

Everett Herald being sold to Canada’s Black Press

By Sanjay Bhatt
Seattle Times business reporter

The Washington Post Co. is selling The Herald newspaper in Everett to Victoria, B.C.-based Black Press and its subsidiary Sound Publishing, officials said Wednesday. Terms weren’t disclosed.

If the deal closes as expected next month, The Herald will become the largest daily newspaper in Sound Publishing’s holdings, which include a printing plant in Everett. The 46,000-circulation Snohomish County daily was founded in 1901 and bought by The Washington Post Co. in 1978.

Poulsbo-based Sound Publishing owns a string of community weeklies — including The Seattle Weekly, which it bought last month — and Little Nickel classifieds publications in Washington state. Sound Publishing says its publications have a combined circulation of 732,700.

Herald Publisher David Dadisman said that by becoming part of a publishing chain that’s closer to Everett, The Herald stands a better chance of serving its readers and advertisers.

“The challenge these days with newspapers and digital operations like ours is they’re hard to sustain as a single entity,” Dadisman said.

Sound Publishing’s parent company, Black Press, publishes more than 170 newspapers and other publications in British Columbia, Alberta and Washington state, plus the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Akron Beacon-Journal in Ohio.

Besides the Herald newspaper, The Daily Herald Co. publishes HeraldNet.com, the Spanish-language weekly and website La Raza del Noroeste and The Herald Business Journal.

The Herald has its own printing press and contracts with The Seattle Times Co. for its home delivery. Dadisman said he believes Sound Publishing will print the daily at its own facility, instead of The Herald’s union-shop facility.

Asked whether the sale would result in layoffs, Dadisman said, “it’s not a headcount-reduction game.”

Media analyst Dickson Louie, a former San Francisco Examiner executive, said the acquisition appears to be part of a clustering strategy to attract advertisers.

“They’re consolidating the cost side and revenue-producing side to get more bang for their buck,” he said.

That strategy might have worked more than a decade ago, he said, but “how much efficiency are they going to get in this era where print circulation is just dropping?”

The Washington Post Co., like other newspaper companies, is struggling to adapt to the economics of publishing quality journalism in a digital-media world.

The Post company’s print-ad revenue in the first nine months of 2012 was $160.7 million, down 14 percent from the same period the previous year. Its online-ad revenue had grown 4 percent to $77.5 million. It does not break out revenue for The Herald.

Just last month, citing lower than expected ad revenue in 2012, The Herald laid off six employees, including four in the newsroom. It also left two vacancies unfilled and reduced one reporter’s hours.

The Herald also had layoffs in late 2010 and early retirements in late 2011.

Last year, the company closed The Weekly Herald, which served South Snohomish County.

Sound Publishing President Gloria Fletcher didn’t return a call requesting comment.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com On Twitter @sbhatt


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