- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MESA, ARIZ. (AP) - This is a test of the Associated Press and is not intended for Publication or Broadcasting.

The East Valley Tribune is dropping its Saturday print edition effective May 16, just four months after the one-time daily eliminated three other days of publication and began giving copies away for free.

The decision to eliminate Saturday editions was the result of the ongoing sluggish economy, which has meant fewer automotive and real estate advertisements, Publisher Julie Moreno said Tuesday. Such ads traditionally have bolstered Saturdays.

“At the onset, we knew that we needed to be willing to assess the strategy and make adjustments along the way,” Moreno said. “Now that we have some experience with our new model, we have begun the process of looking at what is working well, and what elements should be adjusted.”

The suburban Phoenix newspaper, owned by Freedom Communications Inc., will continue to publish print editions on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays for distribution in Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Queen Creek.

Dozens of newspapers around the country have been dropping one or more days of print publication as advertising revenue plummets because of the recession. The idea is to print newspapers on the days with the most advertising, preserving revenue while cutting newsprint, delivery and other costs.

In making the switch from seven to four days in January, the Tribune also went from a paid subscription to a free model and scaled back its delivery zone to four growing communities, dropping Scottsdale and Tempe.

Those changes resulted in a reduction of 40 percent of the newspaper’s staff, or about 140 workers.

Eliminating Saturday editions will result in 13 layoffs, mostly employees who work in production-related functions, Moreno said.

Freedom Communications, based in Irvine, Calif., operates 33 daily and 77 weekly newspapers, including The Orange County (Calif.) Register and two Arizona dailies, The Sun in Yuma and the Daily News-Sun in Sun City.

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