Business

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Elaine Thompson/AP
The iconic globe of the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer is seen atop the
company's waterfront headquarters.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Cuts Print Edition

March 17, 2009 12:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The paper will publish its last print edition today, shifting solely to the Web starting on Wednesday, March 18.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Prints Last Issue

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Seattle's number two paper, the 146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer, goes online-only starting Wednesday, March 18 in an effort to survive the recession and the changing newspaper publishing industry.

Unlike the recently closed Rocky Mountain News, the P-I will continue to publish via its Web site, but will be laying off staff. It is the second major newspaper to announce it would be shifting its efforts entirely to the Web; last October The Christian Science Monitor said it would be online-only by April 2009.

"It's not just us," P-I managing editor David McCumber told NPR, "it's that the industry can't seem to find a way to make journalism work, and people need it—democracy needs it." P-I columnist and political writer Joel Connelly added that he has always seen the newspaper as a whistleblower, from his early days in the 1970s until today.

The move comes after the paper's owner, Hearst Corporation, announced on Jan. 9 that it would put the Post-Intelligencer up for sale for 60 days. At the time, a writer for the paper’s Big Blog noted that the staff didn't know when that countdown was officially to begin.

The P-I’s primary competitor is the Seattle Times, which could also face closure, Time magazine noted in January.

Background: The end of print news

Newspapers all over the country are struggling because of the recession, the rise of free content on the Internet and poor ad revenue. 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. In others, nonprofit organizations like ProPublica are taking up the cause of investigative journalism.

As newspapers struggle financially, some news media outlets are thriving. Specifically, Bloomberg News continues to grow as other papers suffer through layoffs. Bloomberg competes with news agencies like Reuters and the Associated Press, and has started to expand its coverage beyond financial news.

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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.

The Minneapolis 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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