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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Seattle daily newspapers to end direct sales in Eastern Washington

From staff reports

Come March 1, you won’t be able to buy a daily or Sunday Seattle Times or Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper west of Moses Lake.

The Seattle Times Co., which handles circulation for both of the big Seattle newspapers, said the only copies of the newspaper available to customers in the Inland Northwest will be by mail.

“Obviously we regret not being able to serve the readers in that area and we’ve appreciated their business, but in these economic times and with the financial challenges we’ve been going through, we can’t continue to subsidize that — and it is a subsidy,” said Kerry Coughlin, spokeswoman for The Seattle Times.

“Circulation costs in that region are very high,” she added, although she declined to say whether the privately held newspaper company loses money on its sales in this region.

The newspapers are printed in Seattle and sent by truck to the Inland Northwest, then distributed by independent dealers in Spokane, Cheney, Pullman, Clarkston and Walla Walla, Wash., and in Moscow and Lewiston, Idaho.

Currently, about 1,600 copies of the Monday-through-Saturday Times and PI are circulated in this region; on Sundays, the combined circulation is about 1,900, Coughlin said. That’s a sliver of the two papers’ combined total circulation of about 388,000 daily and 474,000 on Sunday.

Coughlin said The Seattle Times has been distributed in Spokane “as far back as anyone can remember.”

Beyer News has been the independent dealer in Spokane for 47 years, said the company’s Dick Beyer. It delivers around 300 to 400 papers to grocery stores and newsstands, he said.

The Seattle Times announced earlier this month that it plans to cut about 100 full-time jobs. A story on the layoffs that ran in the Times said the paper’s parent company lost $12 million last year and also posted a loss in 2003.

The Times and PI are published under a joint operating agreement that calls for the Times to handle the PI’s circulation. The Times has sought in recent years to end that agreement.

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