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KnightRidder.com lays off 68, reorganizes

The newspaper publisher's Net subsidiary announces it is laying off 68 employees, or 16 percent of its work force, as part of a reorganization aimed at achieving profitability by 2002.

Knight Ridder.com on Monday announced it is laying off 68 employees, or 16 percent of its work force, as part of a reorganization aimed at achieving profitability by 2002.

The Internet subsidiary of newspaper publisher Knight Ridder said it plans to consolidate its network of Web sites for 32 local publications into a new, single platform and focus on selling employment classifieds.

KnightRidder.com said that it would also create 34 new positions.

"All projections are for a fast-growing Internet advertising market over the next five years, especially local advertising, and we are uniquely positioned to capture a large chunk of that business," Dan Finnigan, president of KnightRidder.com, said in a statement.

Knight Ridder in 1999 began dipping its toe into the local Web guide market. The move was largely viewed as the publisher's attempt to tap then-skyrocketing Internet valuations. But the market downturn has tempered the company's aspirations.

In August 1999, the company launched BayArea.com, which combined resources from its San Francisco Bay Area newspapers, including the San Jose Mercury News and the Contra Costa Newspapers. The following month, it launched a local guide network, dubbed Real Cities, as the focal point of the company's Web initiative.

The reorganization comes as print publications are struggling to hone Internet strategies, and once high-flying online publishers are going through a period of belt-tightening. For example, TheStreet.com, an online financial news service, last month said it would cut about 100 jobs, shut down its U.K. operations, and end a joint venture with The New York Times.

Monday's announcement follows earlier consolidation moves by KnightRidder.com. In October, the company folded the San Jose Mercury News Web site, Mercury Center, into its BayArea.com local Web guide.

It also builds on the company's growing focus on the employment-advertising market. In September, KnightRidder.com, along with the Tribune Co., acquired online employment service CareerBuilder and combined it with CareerPath.com.

News.com's Jim Hu contributed to this report.