The weekly Prince George's Sentinel plans to merge with another county weekly, the Prince George's Post in coming weeks, , newspaper spokesmen said.
The 18-year-old Sentinel, owned by the company that publishes the older Montgomery Sentinel and six "advertiser" papers in Montgomery County, is concluding negotiations with the Prince George's Post to create a new newspaper to be called the Prince George's Post-Sentinel, newspaper officials said.
Sentinel employes had expected tomorrow's edition to be the last, but Sentinel owner Leonard Kapiloff said Monday that negotiations were still being conducted.
The new paper is expected to merge the editorial staff of the Post and the advertising and circulation of the Sentinel. Most of the dozen reporters and editors of the Sentinel will lose their jobs.
Paid circulation is expected to total more than 11,000, with 7,500 to 8,000 readers of the Sentinel, and 3,600 Post subscribers , officials said.
Kapiloff, who will own half of the new newspaper, said the merger was prompted by the crowded newspaper field in Prince George's County, which has at least six other community and countywide newspapers, in addition to the daily Prince George's Journal.
"The only way the smaller papers can do the job is to get together," said Kapiloff, who said he is considering combining with other county papers.
In the Sentinel newsroom, editor Bob Gill said, the mood last week was "about what you might expect. It's hard to get people interested in the last couple papers, but we're getting it out."
The bad news, he said, was offset somewhat by word that the paper had won nine awards from the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Press Association. "Mention that," Gill said. "It will help everybody get jobs."
Sentinel reporter Willem Scheltema said he has been through it all before, when he was working as a copy aide on the sports desk of the now-defunct Washington Star.
So when he received word last week that he would be out of a job, Scheltema said he "geared up to write a farewell column . . . . "
At the Post, Managing Editor Lloyd Woods said the new product would give increased attention to the southern part of the county and to business and development issues.
Meanwhile, another county paper, the South Prince George's Independent, distributed free to 30,000 households, has changed its name to "This Week," its size to tabloid and its focus from news to features, with a "cover story" personality feature and syndicated columns from Sylvia Porter to the "Slim Gourmet."
"I think that there were too many people doing the same thing," General Manager Jeffrey Hileman said of the change. "There's some pretty hard-hitting news organizations with more resources than we have out there."