Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dead tree paper now dead

A few days after winning concessions in San Francisco, Hearst pulled the plug on the oldest newspaper in Seattle. As expected, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last edition today. (The demise probably won’t rank in the top 10 newspaper failures this year).

In a familiar pattern dating back decades, the newspaper reported its own demise and its residual post-newspaper activities:

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will roll off the presses for the last time Tuesday.

The Hearst Corp. announced Monday that it would stop publishing the 146-year old newspaper, Seattle's oldest business, and cease delivery to more than 117,600 weekday readers.

The company, however, said it would maintain seattlepi.com, making it the nation's largest daily newspaper to shift to an entirely digital news product.

"Tonight we'll be putting the paper to bed for the last time," Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby told a silent newsroom Monday morning. "But the bloodline will live on."
However, that bloodline will be mighty thin. Eliminating the print edition meant layoffs for more than 140 of the 167 reporters, photographers and editors. Only 20 “news gatherers” will remain, supplemented by 20 ad sales reps for SeattlePI.com. The paper will be supplemented by “150 citizen bloggers.”

Absent new business models, these sort of layoffs will be coming to most big city newspapers by 2020. If newspaper publishers — and journalists — want to survive, it’s time to try more radical measures rather than incrementally cutting their staff 10% a year for the next decade.
The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. — Albert Einstein

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