NAMPA -; The dynamic nature of the news industry has led to a major printing deal between the Treasure Valley's two largest daily newspapers. The Idaho Press-Tribune will print The Idaho Statesman starting in early 2009.

The two papers have agreed to a strategic partnership that will improve the quality of both papers and significantly reduce expenses, according to the publishers of both papers.

The two companies have agreed to a long-term contract that will create a single printing plant in Nampa for both newspapers.

IPT President and Publisher Rick Weaver characterized the venture as an advance for both papers: The Press-Tribune will be paid to print the Statesman and, for the Statesman, the partnership means improved print quality and the ability to have more pages in color.

The papers' news operations -; including opinion pages, Web sites and other niche products -; will remain independent, as will their advertising, marketing and distribution operations.

"We are extremely pleased to join the Statesman in this partnership agreement," Weaver said. "As a result of this agreement, both newspapers will be able to print on a state-of-the-art printing press with increased color and page capacity."

The expansion will create several jobs for construction, Weaver predicted. The Press-Tribune also anticipates additional production employees will be hired for its expanded facility.

"This agreement will also give the Press-Tribune the opportunity to continue to invest in our local community by purchasing some new press equipment and modifying our existing building," Weaver said. "This is definitely a win-win for both publications and our communities."

To handle the extra workload, the Press-Tribune is investing in two new color towers and a new folder for its printing press. When the new press is fully operational in early 2009, it will be capable of producing 48 pages with 30 pages of color with each press run. Currently, the Idaho Statesman can print 40 pages with only 16 pages of color.

"We will almost double their color capacity on every press run. That's huge," Weaver said.

The press will be reconfigured at the IPT's plant near the intersection of Nampa-Caldwell Boulevard and Midland Boulevard in Nampa. Work at the site could start in the next two weeks. Construction will begin immediately after, followed by the delivery of new press equipment within the next 90 days.

The work will add some square footage to the existing Press-Tribune plant.

When the transition is complete, the Statesman's daily editions will be printed first, followed by the Press-Tribune's daily editions.

Roger Stowell, a Statesman production executive, will become production director at the expanded facility for the Press-Tribune. Officials said Stowell's knowledge of the Idaho Statesman operation, as well as his experience in large printing facilities, such as the Orange County Register, will be critical for the success of the partnership.

"This new partnership allows us to avoid million of dollars in capital expenditure to refurbish or replace an aging press and achieve state-of-the-art printing for both newspapers," Stowell said.

To ensure a backup for printing newspapers in Southwest Idaho, the Idaho Statesman will keep its press running on a very limited basis with some niche products.

Cliff Long, economic development director for the city of Nampa, said the announcement is positive for Canyon County.

"That's fantastic news. ... I think obviously that's good news for Nampa and the Press-Tribune," he said. "It's unfortunate if there'll be losses at the Statesman, but hopefully some of those people can take positions in Nampa and it'll strengthen the economy of Nampa and Canyon County."

Publishers outline joint venture

TREASURE VALLEY -; For two competing newspapers to come to an agreement of this magnitude is as significant as it is unusual, Idaho Press-Tribune President and Publisher Rick Weaver indicated.

In fact, the merger may be a news industry first. As far as Weaver is aware, there are no similar arrangements in today's industry.

While joint printing ventures are not unusual, they typically occur between papers owned by the same company -; not between two competitors in the same market.

"There are no partnerships out there where the smaller of the two prints the larger," Weaver said. "There has to be a great deal of trust between the companies. If there wasn't, it wouldn't work."

The Idaho Statesman is publicly owned by The McClatchy Company. The Press-Tribune is privately owned by Seattle-based Pioneer Newspapers.

"This partnership helps ensure our continued health and enables us to focus on our critical mission of serving this community," said Mi-Ai Parrish, president and publisher of The Idaho Statesman. "We feel very comfortable entering into an agreement with Pioneer Newspapers, a company in alignment with McClatchy values and vision."

McClatchy and Pioneer also are partnering in Washington state, where the Bellingham Herald will be printed at Pioneer's new facility at the nearby Skagit Valley Herald. The agreement has not yet been finalized.

Industry turbulence fuels changes

TREASURE VALLEY -; The Idaho Statesman's agreement with the Idaho Press-Tribune is part of a strategic restructuring and workforce reduction for the Boise-based daily newspaper.

News of the partnership came as the Statesman announced a reduction in workforce. Officials said the moves are also a response to increased competition, a pronounced economic downturn and the need to transition to new ways of doing business, particularly online.

When the transition takes place early next year, more than 20 Idaho Statesman production employees will be affected. Some will be hired by the Idaho Press-Tribune. Others will be eligible for a severance package.

Other workforce reductions also were announced Monday throughout The McClatchy Company, including some at The Idaho Statesman. The actions amounted to about 1,400 jobs companywide, or 10 percent of the company's workforce. The Idaho Statesman laid off 16 employees on Monday, less than 5 percent of its workforce.

Rick Weaver, president and publisher of the Idaho Press-Tribune, said newspapers in metro markets across the nation are suffering from a slump in revenue and increased competition but that the Press-Tribune has been able to avoid layoffs so far.

Parrish said that despite the layoffs, "we have more readers today than ever before -; for our newspaper, our Web site and our niche products. That's our most important measure of success for the future."

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