Washington Post Cuts Costs

Posted on March 14, 2009

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The Washington Post confirmed this morning that it will fold its stand-alone business section into the newspaper’s A section, which includes the national and international news, six days a week. The paper will continue to have a separate business section on Sundays.

It is ironic that one of America’s top newspapers is forced to reduce the prominence of its business news coverage at the same time that it reports on the economic and financial story of the century. Folding the Business section in with the national and international news was presented as better than the alternative of running the business news at the back of the Sports section.

As it continues to cut costs, the Post will also reduce its agate stock listings from three pages to one-half page, and cut five comic strips. A few weeks ago, the newspaper eliminated its excellent Book World section on Sundays. The Sunday book reviews can now be found at the back of the Outlook section.

I have known that the newspaper industry is in trouble for a long time, but I had hoped that the top newspapers, The New York Times and the Washington Post, would somehow escape serious financial pressure. Only a few weeks ago, the Times folded its Metro section into the front section to save money.

The roll call of stricken papers goes on. The Rocky Mountain News in Denver has published its Final edition. Remember when newspapers used to merge, rather than close? The Washington Post, after all, is really the Washington Post and Times-Herald. The Washington Daily News became the Evening Star and Daily News. And there was the Baltimore News-American, which some people called the News-Post. Now there are so few newspapers left that mergers are no longer an option.

The Baltimore Sun, which had already eliminated most of its weekday sections, except for the Sports section, announced this week that it is reducing the physical size of its pages (again).

A few newspapers have discontinued home-delivery, and promise to put more resources into their Web sites. I can’t help thinking that the best way for some papers to stay in business would be to publish three days a week, rather than seven. Hopefully, the Post and the Times will be spared that humiliation. — Bernie Hayden

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