Owner of 4 Washington newspapers posts 1Q loss

McClatchy Newspapers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The McClatchy Co. (MNI) this week said it lost $2.1 million in the first quarter as newspaper advertising revenue continued to decline.

In the Northwest, the company publishes The News-Tribune in Tacoma, the Bellingham Herald, The Olympian in Olympia, the Tri-City Herald in Kennewick and the Idaho Statesman in Boise. McClatchy also has a minority stake in the privately held Seattle Times Co.

The results were about the same as the first quarter last year. Sacramento-based McClatchy said revenue fell 5.1 percent in the quarter from the same period of 2011. Advertising sales fell 6.8 percent, continuing a trend that has plagued many media companies since 2006.

The quarterly loss came to 2 cents a share. A year ago, McClatchy lost $2 million, or 2 cents a share.

“We were pleased to see the advertising revenue trend improving throughout the quarter,” said Gary Pruitt, the company’s outgoing chairman and chief executive. “Advertising revenues were down 7.9 percent in January, 6.8 percent in February and 5.6 percent in March.

Still, the total drop in ad sales of 6.8 percent was worse than in the fourth quarter of 2011, when they fell 5.7 percent.

One bright spot was a 2.7 percent increase in digital ad sales. Digital advertising now makes up 22.2 percent of the total ad picture at McClatchy.