Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly categorized the Eagle’s reach.
The Wichita Eagle will transfer its printing and packaging operations to Kansas City, Mo., and as a result plans to sell its downtown buildings, president and publisher Roy Heatherly said Monday.
The change in operations will mean the elimination of 27 full-time and 47 part-time positions, he said, adding that unions representing some of those workers were notified Monday of the change.
The move of printing and packaging will free up resources for The Eagle in its continuing growth as a digital-first media company, Heatherly said, adding for example that the company reaches more than 240,000 people on Sunday through its digital and print platforms.
“We’re not abandoning print at all,” he said. “We remain absolutely committed to providing a high-quality newspaper to our loyal print-edition readers while also focused on serving our rapidly growing digital audience.
“This is strictly a move to position us for growth,” Heatherly said. “We are strong. We are profitable. We are committed to Wichita. And we are committed to downtown Wichita.”
This is strictly a move to position us for growth. We are strong. We are profitable. We are committed to Wichita. And we are committed to downtown Wichita.
Roy Heatherly, president and publisher of The Wichita Eagle
He added that print subscribers “should not see any change to the delivery of their paper.”
The transfer of printing operations in a joint venture with The Kansas City Star will be effective May 29. The Star’s press pavilion prints other newspapers in the state, including the Lawrence Journal-World and Topeka Capital-Journal.
Both The Eagle and The Star are owned by McClatchy Co., which operates 29 daily newspapers in 28 U.S. markets.
Heatherly said with that move, The Eagle won’t need the 181,000-square-feet of buildings it owns downtown and will seek a new location downtown.
“My hope and goal is that we will be able to sell the building(s) very quickly,” he said. “Realistically, though, it could take up to two years.”
Jeff Fluhr, president of Wichita Downtown Development Corp., said with The Eagle’s proximity to Old Town and Union Station, “the current facilities will be of interest and a critical component” to downtown redevelopment.