KC Journal to close, no change to Reporter

The final edition of the King County Journal will be published Jan. 21, employees of the daily newspaper were told Thursday.

The announcement of the decision to close the Journal was made four weeks to the day after the paper was sold to its new owner, Black Press Ltd., of Canada.

Black Press, which purchased King County Journal Newspapers from Horvitz Newspapers on Nov. 30, will continue to publish the nine non-daily community newspapers that were included in the sale.

The Mercer Island Reporter will not be affected by the closing of the daily paper and will continue to be published each Wednesday and delivered by mail.

The Snoqualmie Valley Record paper will continue to be published once a week.

Six papers — the Auburn, Bellevue, Covington/Maple Valley, Kent, Renton and Redmond Reporter newspapers — will switch from being published twice a month to twice a week, beginning Jan. 24.

The Bothell/Kenmore Reporter will switch from twice-a-month publication to once a week on that same date.

Don Kendall, general manager of King County Publications Ltd., the newly formed subsidiary of Black Press, said the Reporter papers will be revamped to include more local news, sports and features content.

The Reporter papers in those communities, which were directly mailed to households, will switch to carrier delivery beginning Jan. 24, Kendall said.

The company is in the process of hiring newspaper carriers, he said.

The decision to close the daily King County Journal was the “most difficult” one that Black Press CEO David Black has had to make in more than 31 years as a newspaper publisher, Kendall told employees in Kent on Thursday.

“You should be very proud of the battle you fought for the Journal,” Kendall said. “Unfortunately, it's a battle we couldn't win.”

The Journal had been steadily losing both money and subscribers for the past several years, and continued to see declines in advertising revenues and circulation in the past month, Kendall said.

Approximately 40 full-time employees at the King County Journal Newspapers will lose their jobs as a result of the paper’s closure, while 10 have been hired to work at the Reporter papers and another will move to the marketing department, Kendall said.

King County Journal readers whose subscriptions have not yet expired when the final edition is published will be offered a Classified bonus package twice the value of their unused subscriptions.

David Grant, a Journal reporter who represents 25 newsroom and advertising union employees in Bellevue, said, “It's unfortunate that the King County Journal is closing. It’s a loss for employees, a loss for readers and it’s a loss for the community.”

The King County Journal, which has a daily circulation of approximately 39,000 copies, was formed in 2003 by the merger of two long-time suburban daily newspapers, the Eastside Journal and South County Journal. Those papers previously had been known as the Journal-American and Valley Daily News.

Both were owned by Horvitz Newspapers, which bought the chain that also included the Mercer Island Reporter, in 1994.

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