Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Newspaper Strike in Pittsburgh Seen Coming to an End but Financial Complications May Mean Only One of Two Area Newspapers Returns

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Newspaper Strike in Pittsburgh Seen Coming to an End but Financial Complications May Mean Only One of Two Area Newspapers Returns

Article excerpt

PITTSBURGH is likely to get one of its two daily newspapers back on the street, possibly within the next two months.

The tentative settlement of a six-month strike by union drivers has the local Post-Gazette gearing up to start publishing again. "We have an opportunity to put out an outstanding newspaper," says Woodene Merriman, the morning daily's assistant managing editor. The newspaper could begin appearing on the street as early as January, she says.

But the opposite mood reigns at the rival publication, the Pittsburgh Press. Although the Press is the larger of the two dailies, it looks increasingly likely the afternoon paper will not reappear.

"At this point there are a number of things still up in the air," says Randall Notter, a Press Company spokesman. But "a number of the people in the Press newsroom have been sending resumes out."

Stung by financial losses from the strike, the E. W. Scripps Company said last month it would sell the Press to the Post- Gazette's parent company, Blade Communications in Toledo, Ohio. Although Blade Communications has not revealed its plans for the Press, the prevalent theory is that it will close the paper.

Company chairman William Block has told employees it would be hard to publish both dailies profitably. And nearly all of the Press's reporters have applied for positions at the Post-Gazette, Ms. Merriman adds.

Although the Press's demise remains the most likely scenario, several uncertainties remain. These include:

* Unions' response. Blade Communications has said it would purchase the Press only if it could reach settlements with all of its unions by Nov. 30. A key breakthrough came last Wednesday, when the company reached a tentative contract agreement with 605 Teamsters drivers. It was the Teamsters who closed down the newspapers when they walked out May 17. …

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