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As Metro Dailies Sag, Small-Fry Papers Doing Just Fine

If 2007 will be remembered as one of falling classified revenues, staff cuts, lower margins squeezed operating margins slumping stock prices for the newspaper industry, it wasn't all bad. While the big metro dailies were taking it on their collective chins, some smaller-fry out in the provinces did just fine.

For instance, says Edward Seaton, editor-in-chief of The Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury and part owner of six other dailies in the Plains States, "We had the best year we've ever had financially, not just at the Mercury, but for all of our papers."

And John Tompkins, founder of News Media Corporation that publishes 71 papers in small communities over nine states, generally agrees: "With our West Coast papers, mostly in California, business has been difficult, but even there, we've made up for a lot of [the slump]," he says. "Throughout the rest of the country from Oregon to West Virginia, the numbers have been up."

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