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Tribune plans to merge papers

Friday, September 11, 1998

By Dan Fitzpatrick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is merging operations with its sister paper, the North Hills News Record.

The combined paper, effective Nov. 1, will be known as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review/North Hills News Record.

For the Greensburg-based Tribune-Review Publishing Co., which purchased the News Record in December, the single North Hills edition is part of an ongoing strategy to encircle the metropolitan area and challenge the Post-Gazette in suburban markets.

Tribune-Review President Ed Harrell could not be reached for comment yesterday, but in remarks published in the Tribune-Review, he said the combination would benefit readers and advertisers, giving advertisers a larger audience for marketing their wares and giving subscribers a wider array of local, regional and national news.

The News Record has 100 employees, according to the Tribune-Review.

Larry Jock, the News Record's general manager, could not be reached for comment, but some observers expect to see job losses.

"There has to be some duplication," said Michael Monsour, president of Market Place Print, a media buying firm Downtown.

After Tribune Review Publishing purchased the News Record, it packaged the two Sunday editions together, with the Trib wrapped around a North Hills News Record section. Testing the waters with a Sunday edition made a daily consolidation easier, Monsour said. It "got the market used to it."

Jared Villao, who sells both the Tribune and the News Record as manager of the Ross Park News, said if the Tribune's success with News Record readers will depend on the level of North Hills news coverage.

"That's the reason why people out here get the North Hills News Record," he said.

For advertisers who relied on the News Record, the merger may result in higher costs, Monsour said. The Tribune Review, by adding its subscribers to News Record circulation numbers, could justify an increase in rates, he said.

The News Record's daily circulation is 16,592, according to the Chicago-based Audit Bureau of Circulations. Its Sunday circulation is 15,859. A year ago, the paper recorded daily circulation of 17,596 and Sunday circulation of 16,837.

The paper's glory days were the early 1990s, when the Pittsburgh Press was closed by a labor dispute and the News Record went from a twice-weekly publication to a daily.

The combined daily circulation of the Tribune-Review's Pittsburgh and Greensburg editions dipped 349 in the last reporting period, to 85,320. The Tribune's Sunday numbers rose 5 percent, to 150,185.

The Post-Gazette's daily circulation increased 1.4 percent, from 241,779 to 245,110. Its Sunday circulation dropped from 437,864 to 437,094.

Last year, Tribune Review Publishing purchased three regional dailies from Thomson Newspapers and two from Gannett. One of the two Gannett papers was the News Record. It also added a Sunday edition to the Irwin Standard Observer, which Tribune Review Publishing already owns.

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