Times, WashPost go their own ways

"One of the oldest corporate marriages in the newspaper business ended in divorce Wednesday," Howard Kurtz reports in the Washington Post. He means the joint wire service of the Post and the Los Angeles Times. They are ditching each other, and while Kurtz says neither side is pointing fingers, at least some at the LAT feel the Post wanted to go its own way. Kurtz:

Executives at the Times and Post were tight-lipped about the split, but it clearly had its roots in Tribune Co.'s 2000 takeover of the Los Angeles paper's parent company. That takeover included the Baltimore Sun, Newsday and the Hartford Courant, whose articles were also offered by the news service.

But Tribune, now owned by Chicago businessman Sam Zell, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. And a separate news alliance, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, has emerged as a competitor to the Times-Post venture.

During the same period, cutbacks at the Times, whose Washington bureau was merged with those of other Tribune papers, reduced its contributions on national and international news. The Post, while also shrinking through four rounds of early-retirement buyouts, has largely maintained its national focus. The Post could market itself as a standalone news service or seek another partner. has estimated the Times-Post service's annual revenue at $1.4 million.

The news service, launched in 1962 by the Post's Philip Graham and the LAT's Otis Chandler, gave the then-emerging Times a lot of credibility and access to stories from Washington and overseas. The LAT will now pick up Tribune-McClatchy stories, and put its stories on that wire. Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein's note to the staff is after the jump.

From: Hartenstein, Eddy
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 4:18 PM
To: zzTrbAllHandsLAT; zzMediaGroups
Subject: Los Angeles Times–Washington Post News Service Announcement
After a long and storied 47-year relationship with the Washington Post, our companies have agreed to discontinue the Los Angeles Times–Washington Post News Service (LATWP), effective January 1, 2010.

LATWAP was founded in 1962 by Philip Graham of the Washington Post and The Times’ Otis Chandler to distribute a selection of the best coverage from the two newsrooms to other newspapers and customers in the U.S. and around the world.

Immediately following the dissolution, The Times will join McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), a joint venture of the McClatchy and Tribune Companies, as a premier content provider of multimedia world and national news, entertainment, sports, tech and features coverage and in-depth analysis.

Organizationally, MCT will maintain a team of editors at The Times to source and package our content. This team, headed by Denise Bennett, will report to Jane Scholz, editor, MCT. MCT will lead all sales and marketing efforts.

We are proud of the work that Denise and her team have contributed to LATWP and wish them the best through this transition.


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