The renamed papers will be flagged “Sun Thisweek.”
The consolidation was expected; ECM and the Sun papers competed most fiercely in Dakota County. Both chains distributed about 60,000 papers — Thisweek in Burnsville, Eagan, Apple Valley, Farmington, Lakeville and Rosemount; Sun in all those communities except Farmington.
Larry Werner, Thisweek’s general manager, says no layoffs will result. Thisweek will add Sun sports columnist Mike Shaughnessy — whom Werner calls “the Sid Hartman of Dakota County” — as well as two pages to what have typical been 14-page editions.
“We’ll save the life of our sports editor, Andy Rogers, who had to cover eight high schools and 80 sports,” says Werner.
Two Sun-Current editors have been given positions elsewhere in ECM. Although production has been consolidated, there were no layoffs, and ECM plans to add “one to two salespeople,” Werner says.
ECM — which claimed 700,000-doorstep delivery following the Sun takeover — will save money on printing and distribution, which costs far more than editorial, Werner says.
A 10-person staff will fill Thisweek’s three editions: Apple Valley-Rosemount; Burnsville-Eagan; and Farmington-Lakeville. ECM also publishes the subscription-only Dakota County Tribune.
Dakota readers will be getting less newspaper competition, but Werner says the county might have the most competitive market in the state. Rosemount — population 17,000 — has Thisweek, the Forum Communications-owned Rosemount Town Pages, Rosemount Patch and Star Tribune and Pioneer Press weekly or zoned sections. Werner says AOL-owned Patch operates in every Thisweek market except Farmington.