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Wednesday Journal is scaling back its publishing efforts in the city of Chicago one year after expanding from two papers to five. In the face of the difficult economy, the Oak Park-based publisher Thursday announced that it will continue to publish two of its weeklies while it sells two others and shutters a fifth.

Four other papers published by the Journal -Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest, Forest Park Review, Riverside Brookfield Landmark and Austin Weekly News-are not affected by the changes. Also unaffected is the company’s Chicago Parent magazine.

The larger of the two city papers the group is keeping is Chicago Journal, a weekly newspaper it started in 1999 in the South Loop, the West Loop and the Near West that last year was named in Editor & Publisher magazine’s 10 That Do It Right. The second paper being kept is Skyline, the old Lerner weekly in Lincoln Park, Old Town, River North and the Gold Coast.

“These are the strongest papers in our city group and we are confident in their potential to grow despite this exceptionally tough economy,” said Dan Haley, publisher.

Two other papers, News-Star and Booster, will be sold to another weekly publisher in the city and continue publication. The fifth paper, West Town Chicago Journal will close after its March 19 edition. That paper serves the Wicker Park, Bucktown and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods.

The March 19 issues of News-Star and Booster will be the last under the current ownership.

“These papers serve wonderful neighborhoods and we’re disappointed to be leaving them,” said Haley, who is selling those papers to Ron Roenigk of Inside Publications. Roenigk’s company publishes Inside, a weekly in North Center and Lincoln Square.

News-Star and Booster are two of the last three Lerner newspapers that the Chicago Journal group bought in January 2008 from the Chicago Sun-Times when the Sun-Times’ Pioneer Press division was being downsized. News-Star covers Rogers Park, Ravenswood, Edgewater and Uptown. Booster covers Lake View, North Center and Roscoe Village.

“The final three Lerner flags were in tough shape when we took them on and then we headed straight into this terrible recession. It was simply too intense a downturn for us to weather while still focusing on our other city and suburban weeklies and our Chicago Parent magazine,” Haley said.

The paper being closed is Chicago Journal West Town, which covers Wicker Park, Bucktown and Ukrainian Village. The Oak Park group started this paper in 2005 after more than half a decade of success with its original Chicago Journal.

The Journal’s independent group of community weekly newspapers also publishes Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, Forest Park Review, Riverside Brookfield Landmark and Austin Weekly News. The company also publishes three regional parenting magazines: Chicago Parent, Chicago Baby and Chicago Special Parent.

-Staff reports