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Independent going weekly, tabloid; Bainbridge press closing

Sound Publishing, Inc., parent company of the Port Orchard Independent, announced on Wednesday that the Independent, along with the North Kitsap Herald and the Bainbridge Review, will begin publishing weekly — on Fridays — rather than twice weekly, as of Jan. 9.

“While many newspapers are concerned about declining readership due to the Internet age,” said Lori Maxim, vice president the company’s West Sound operations, “our newspapers in Kitsap County are taking the opposite approach — deliberately reducing their frequency of distribution to focus more resources to publishing an on-line edition containing breaking news content and regular community features.”

In connection with the move, Sound Publishing also announced the suspension of operations at the company’s Bainbridge Island printing facility.

The company will temporarily close the plant at the end of business on Jan. 2.

The closure will affect 44 full and part-time staff at the press center. The plant has been in operation for more than 20 years.

In addition to these changes, newspapers serving Kitsap County — including the Independent — will be converted to the smaller tabloid format effective Jan. 7.

“Readers nowadays prefer tabloid newspapers because they are easier to carry and there are more visual images for readers to be engaged with in the commuter friendly design,” Maxim said. “Tabloids are also environmentally friendly, using less newsprint and offering advertisers more color availability.”

Sound Publishing President Manfred Tempelmayr said a combination of unusual challenges facing the publishing industry and the general weak economy prompted the moves.

“There’s no question the economy is taking its toll on every business,” he said. “Coupled with that, the publishing industry is going through a major transformation, which will lead to a reduction in printed products and an increase in our on-line offerings. Sound Publishing is a strong and viable company and we need to ensure that we take steps to build on that strength.”

Tempelmayr said the company will consolidate all press functions at its Everett press facility and will offer a number of the affected staff the chance to work at that location.

The Bainbridge facility will continue to serve as a staging area for the delivery of newspapers in Kitsap County.

“Our hope is that we will be able to resume operations at Bainbridge when the economy improves,” Tempelmayr said. “We will be keeping the plant and equipment intact but do not know when we might be able to start up again.”

The Everett facility is the result of the consolidation of press operations the company had in Burlington, Lynnwood and Kent and comprises an area of more than 85,000 square feet, making it one of the state’s largest press plants.

The company has taken steps recently to reduce the number of editions for some of its suburban and community newspapers, resulting in less demand for printing capacity.

Sound Publishing, Inc. is the largest publisher of community and suburban newspapers in Washington and is also one of the area’s largest commercial web printers.

The company operates 30 community and suburban newspapers, two monthly business journals, and 17 Little Nickel and Nickel Ads weekly shoppers throughout Washington and Oregon.

Sound also publishes two editions of the Northwest Navigator for the U.S. Navy.

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