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Washington Post to get thinner in hard times.

The iconic Washington Post newspaper will cut out its standalone business section and fold it into the front section, from Monday to Saturday, to save on newsprint. The plan was announced to employees in a memo from four editors today, said Kris Coratti, a spokeswoman for the publisher. The actions ''allow us to save on newsprint, an important objective in these times,'' the memo said. ''These moves will allow us to continue providing the features that our readers tell us they most value in the newspaper.'' The Post will also begin running a daily page devoted to local business, rather than a weekly section. The newspaper will run fewer comics in its Sunday print editions, moving some to its web site, and will eliminate one of its crossword puzzles. It currently runs three daily pages of comics. The newspaper is also eliminating daily stock listings. It will instead offer a half-page of statistics and graphics that will focus on prices of major and local stocks and other economic data. However, it will have an enhanced business section on Sundays, which will include fresh financial tables and graphics along with more personal finance stories aimed at helping people and small businesses survive the downturn. Executive editor Marcus Brauchli said in a statement that the changes, which take effect from 30 March, also reflect "the increasing overlap of political and economic events" and would allow the Post "to run a leaner, better-organized newspaper''. "We remain absolutely committed to the strongest, in-depth and authoritative coverage of business locally, economics and economic-policy nationally, and the hugely important intersection of government, politics and money," the memo said. Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, writing on the paper's website earlier today, said Brauchli did not dispute the fact that the loss of a stand-alone section would mean less prominence for many business stories. Last month, the Post ended publication of its standalone book-review section in its Sunday newspaper. It has also cut other sections since Brauchli joined the paper last year, including the Sunday Source section. It has combined its Sunday Arts and Styles sections. Surging costs, shrinking revenues: Newsprint prices jumped 32 per cent in 2008, according to Foex Ltd in Finland. With advertising revenues at a record low as well, many newspapers have been eliminating standalone business sections to cut production costs. Last month, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution announced similar plans, and earlier this month the Los Angeles Times shrunk from five to four daily sections. The Washington Post's print advertising revenue fell 17 per cent last year to $410.4 million, mostly because of declining classified ad revenue. Daily circulation at the paper fell 2.6 per cent in 2008. The Post has a strong line-up of business news reporters, and has written many large, investigative stories about companies involved in the ongoing financial crisis, including a three-part series on the downfall of insurer American International Group. Berkshire Hathaway owns about a fifth of the company's Class B shares, and Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett sits on the board.