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Idaho Media Shrinkage

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Idaho's media landscape continues to shrink with recent layoffs announced at both the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa and the Times-News in Twin Falls.

The Press-Tribune announced 16 layoffs, none of which will involve editorial staff, according to publisher Rick Weaver.

"Business is just bad," Weaver said. "If the economy was better we wouldn't be doing it."

The Times-News, which is owned by Lee Enterprises whose largest paper is the St. Louis Post Dispatch, announced layoffs as several smaller papers are consolidated. In closing the South Idaho Press as well as weeklies in Gooding, Jerome and Lincoln counties, the Times-News is laying off 14 people, according to a staff report on magicvalley.com, the paper's Web site. The smaller community papers will be subsumed by the larger Times-News, but will be zoned with local news, the story said.

"We intend to devote all of our resources into a single, stronger and more regional newspaper," as opposed to spreading them out among a variety of papers, publisher Brad Hurd told his reporter.

In April, Lee sold the Wood River Journal and shuttered papers in Shoshone and Rupert.

In the face of layoffs, Press-Tribune publisher Weaver cited several positives for his paper's audience: "Even though the economy is currently bad, there are many positive things at the Press-Tribune, including home delivery and single copy sales reaching new records. Combined with our growing online audience, the total Press-Tribune readership is higher than at any point in history."

Last month the paper announced a joint printing deal with the Idaho Statesman in which the smaller, Nampa-based paper will begin printing the Statesman. But that deal will not produce revenue for the Press-Tribune until next year, Weaver said.

The Statesman announced 16 layoffs in June at the same time as the joint printing contract was made public and also said an additional 20 layoffs would come when the Press-Tribune takes over press operations next year.

The Press-Tribune, which is owned by Pioneer Newspapers, gave employees two weeks notice and a severance package that may include a health coverage option through November.

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