DCI Publishing Inc., the Washington area's largest weekly newspaper publisher, is going on a diet as it goes courting investors. In recent weeks, the Alexandria-based publisher of 21 papers, including the Connection chain in Northern Virginia, has put out the word to its top managers to find ways to save as much as $1 million in operating expenses. At the same time, the company has pink-slipped two editors and let two others go by attrition while closing its editorial office at Tysons Corner.

Peter Labovitz, DCI's co-owner, said the moves were only partly related to its hunt for new capital. "These were things we should have done anyway," said Labovitz, a real estate developer. "We took a look at our expenses and felt we could tighten up a bit," he said, adding that the cuts will put the papers into the black.

DCI still is talking with the Providence Journal Co. of Rhode Island and several others about a minority investment, with a deal expected by summer. Labovitz also said DCI is talking with Davis Kennedy, owner of the Gazette weekly chain in Montgomery County, about a DCI-Gazette link-up -- a venture that would create a chain of newspapers ringing the entire Washington area.