The Wichita Eagle plans to leave its office space in Old Town by the end of April.
The move comes four years after the state’s largest newspaper sold its longtime home on East Douglas. Cargill’s protein headquarters now sits on the site.
Michael Roehrman, executive editor of Kansas.com and The Eagle, said the company decided not to renew its lease.
“Everybody at The Eagle has been working from home since last March,” he said. “And so like a lot of businesses, we realized it didn't make a lot of sense to keep paying for space that wasn't being used.”
The Eagle initially leased two floors in Old Town Square when it moved in with about 100 news, advertising and finance employees in May 2017. It occupied just the second floor of the building at 330 N. Mead when the pandemic began.
Roehrman said The Eagle plans to have an office again in the future. But when that might be, and what the new office space might look like, is uncertain.
“The intention right now is to have another building,” Roehrman said. “Something may change, but that is the intention right now is we will have another building.”
Like many other newspapers, The Eagle has struggled financially over the last decade, leading to several rounds of job cuts. The Eagle’s newsroom now employs fewer than 20 people.
The Eagle, founded in 1872, moved its printing operations to Kansas City, Missouri, in 2016. The paper is now printed in Hutchinson.
It also stopped producing a printed newspaper on Saturdays in November 2019 as it continued its move to a more digitally focused news operation. Roehrman said about 80% of the people who read The Eagle do so using a digital platform.
The Eagle’s parent company, McClatchy, filed for bankruptcy a year ago, citing heavy debt and pension obligations it could not meet. It was later purchased by Chatham Asset Management, a private hedge fund.
McClatchy operates 30 papers across the country, including the Kansas City Star, and several of them also are working without office space.
Roehrman said leaving the company’s office space will not affect the journalism The Eagle produces.
“I think, particularly over the last year and a half, we have demonstrated to this community our commitment to our foundational principles: government accountability, transparency and serving the community,” he said.