The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has ceased publication. It will become an Internet-only news source, written by a small staff. The Rocky Mountain News, the oldest newspaper in Colorado, published its final edition last month.
For neither newspaper was quality the issue: journalists at the RMN had won four Pulitzer Prizes in the past decade. The company that owns the 150 year old daily blamed declining ad sales, and said that it could not find a buyer for the paper, which lost $16 million last year. The P-I had won two Pulitzers in the past decade or so, both for the scathing cartoons of David Horsey. It lost $14 million last year.
Owners of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Tucson Citizen - major daily newspapers losing money - have said they, too, may shut down if buyers can’t be found. The Boston Globe and the NY Daily News both reportedly lose money.
Lots of people still want the broad, branded, reliable information that only a daily newspaper can provide. But, they have become accustomed to getting it on-line without cost. With ad revenue lagging, newspapers’ business model isn’t working like it used to.
That brings me to our daily newspaper.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch still makes money. Whether it makes enough is an issue for its owners in Davenport to consider. After several years of shedding reporters, editors, and staffers, the paper still manages to cover the region and state with authority. It remains my primary source for regional and statewide news.
It would be a major loss to the region and the state if the P-D stopped printing on paper, no matter how narrow. (I am learning to read The St. Louis Beacon, but it isn’t really a daily newspaper. Yet.)
Sometime in the next year, I think that one of three things might happen.
Someone might buy the Post-Dispatch
The Post-Dispatch might begin charging for some of its on-line content
The Post-Dispatch might cease publication as a print newspaper
The first two do not seem so bad, when compared to the third one.