Marcus R. Donner/AP
A man leaves the offices of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer Friday Jan. 9, 2009 in Seattle.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Is Latest Metropolitan Daily in Crisis

January 16, 2009 03:22 PM
by Rachel Balik
Hearst has announced that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is for sale, but as it’s unlikely it will find a buyer, the money-losing paper seems doomed to fold.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Days Are Numbered

Saddled by the same woes as other print papers—plummeting advertising sales and the wide availability of free news online—the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is finally succumbing to financial losses. Hearst, the media giant that owns the paper, announced on Jan. 9 that it will put the Post-Intelligencer up for sale for the next 60 days. However, a writer for the paper’s Big Blog notes that the staff doesn’t even know when that countdown officially begins. One thing is certain: if no one steps forward at the end of the period, the paper will fold.

With grim fervor indicative of the current journalistic climate, the paper’s staff has been chronicling its final days. The P-I’s primary competitor is the Seattle Times; Time magazine notes that that paper may also fold. If it does, Seattle will be the only major city without its own paper.

Background: The end of print news

Newspapers all over the country are struggling, mostly because of the Internet. Newspaper executives are struggling to create new models that will both satisfy peoples' need to read news online and also allow newspapers to continue generating income. Although people tend to prefer to read news for free online, it is newspapers that fund investigative journalism. Unfortunately, because of declining ad sales and revenue, money for investigative journalism is running out. In some cases, citizen journalists are taking up the work formerly performed by professionals.

There are other alternatives. As newspapers struggle financially, other types of media thrive. Specifically, Bloomberg News continues to grow as other papers suffer through layoffs. Bloomberg more closely competes with news feeds like Reuters, because it sells its branded content to other newspapers.

Related Topic: Newspaper crisis fuels rumors

There is a great deal of gossip about newspapers’ struggles, but every paper seems desperate both to survive and convince the public of its security. After the Atlantic published an article suggesting that the print edition of The New York Times might fold, the Times responded with a letter to the Atlantic stating that the article was factually inaccurate and poorly researched.

In August 2008, Maine’s Portland Press Herald announced in court that it was in dire financial straits, causing residents to fear that the city would lose its only paper. One dismayed Portland woman wondered to The Boston Globe whether you could be a major city without a newspaper. The paper denied that it would fold and is still operating.

Minnesota’s Star Tribune has also promised to stay in business despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Publisher Chris Harte said that the bankruptcy filing would give the state’s largest paper resources to become even better when the economy improved.

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