Scripps Howard News Service Will Close Down After 96 Years

E.W. Scripps Co.’s Scripps Howard News Service, which fed syndicated stories to papers across the U.S. since World War I, plans to shut down, becoming the latest symbol of readers’ shift away from print media.

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services, a joint venture of McClatchy Co. and Tribune Co., will take over Scripps Howard’s clients, according to a statement yesterday. The transition is expected to be completed by January, the companies said.

The Scripps Howard News Service, founded in 1917, supplied newspaper clients with Washington coverage and news from around the world, as well as photos, commentary and editorial cartoons. The operation was a remnant of a once-thriving era of wire services and news agencies, when an insatiable newspaper industry had numerous publications in every city and multiple editions per day. In an age when Internet news is typically free, newspaper consolidation, declining advertising sales and shrinking circulation have crimped demand for wire copy.

As part of the changes, Cincinnati-based Scripps is restructuring its Washington newsroom to better serve online and television audiences, rather than just newsprint readers. The company has acquired DecodeDC, a podcast and website founded by former National Public Radio reporter Andrea Seabrook. She started DecodeDC with $100,000 raised on the Kickstarter site.

Cuts, Additions

Scripps -- the owner of daily newspapers in 13 markets, as well as 19 local TV stations -- will cut seven jobs in the Washington bureau associated with the wire service. The company plans to create 10 jobs to further its new push into political coverage and investigative journalism. Seabrook is joining the bureau, where she will continue to produce her podcast.

“Our strategy to expand as a content-focused organization, with a full commitment to investigative reporting and national politics, led us to this decision to cease being a packager and distributor of content from other news organizations,” Ellen Weiss, chief of Scripps’s Washington bureau, said in the statement.

Ernie Pyle, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent and columnist, was one of Scripps Howard’s best-known contributors. He reported from the front lines of the conflict and died in the Pacific in 1945.

Scripps’s stock rose 3.8 percent to $18.63 at the close in New York. Shares of the company, which has offset declining newspaper revenue with a growing broadcast-television division, have climbed 72 percent this year.

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