News Tribune expands Kitsap circulation

Tacoma’s News Tribune newspaper has been available at grocery stores and news stands in Kitsap County for years, but it was offered to subscribers only in South Kitsap.

Company leaders recently changed that policy, and now the paper is available for home delivery all over Kitsap County and in parts of Jefferson and Callaham counties, according to Patric Grissom, area circulation manager for The News Tribune.

“We have had single copies in that (Kitsap) area, but we have had fairly consistent requests for home delivery. It is a growing area with a good future as a market,” said Mike Burlingame, circulation director for The News Tribune.

The company has no plans to open a bureau to cover Kitsap County news, Burlingame said. Instead, company leaders hope to market the paper’s coverage of sports, national and international news.

“What folks tell us they are reading us for are our sports reports and for nation and world (coverage). We have a nationally-recognized sports section. There are no plans in the works to have a local bureau, nothing beyond what we are already doing,” Burlingame said.

Nor will the company seek advertising revenue in the area, Grissom said. But he added, “As circulation grows, advertising will follow.”

The News Tribune already has a distribution network in place for the expansion. It contracts with three distributors, each of which employs a dozen carriers, Burlingame said. The expansion will not immediately entail additional employees, he said.

“I think the biggest challenge will be getting the paper delivered to the far-reaching areas that the readers would like. It is a long ways from Tacoma,” Grissom said.

The News Tribune’s circulation has increased in the last two years, to 128,607, Grissom said. That bucks a nationwide trend of declining newspaper circulation. The paper distributes in Pierce County, south King County and Thurston County, in additon to the new areas, Grissom said.

The Kitsap Newspaper Group, The Sun of Bremerton, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intellingencer already distribute in Kitsap County.

Manfred Tempelmayr, president of Sound Publishing, said the move is unlikely to affect the firm’s five Kitsap newspapers. Sound Publishing’s Kitsap Newspaper Group owns this newspaper, along with the Bremerton Patriot, Bainbridge Review, North Kitsap Herald and the Port Orchard Independent.

Sound also publishes the Northwest Navigator, a Navy contract publication.

“The success of our group of community newspapers is, we provide information that no other papers provide. Our content is local in scope, and most dailies can’t provide that information,” Tempelmayr said.

The News Tribune also lacks the regional circulation numbers needed to target advertisers, so it is unlikely it will compete with the Kitsap Newspaper Group for local advertising revenue, Tempelmayr said.

The News Tribune could face tough competition from the Seattle papers for national and international coverage, Tempelmayr added, and it might affect The Sun.

“If you are a resident of Kitsap County I wouldn’t be surprised if you subscribe to a Seattle paper to get the big picture,” Tempelmayr said. “Why would you take the (Tribune) over one of those? ... Most people in Kitsap County aren’t interested in what goes on in Pierce County.”

The Kitsap Newspaper Group has a combined circulation of 62,837. The papers are published twice weekly, with the exception of the weekly Bremerton Patriot.

The Sun has a circulation of 32,631, according to the Sept. 30 Newspaper Publishers Statement.

Attempts to reach Mike Levi, the publisher of The Sun, were unsuccessful.

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