The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which has chronicled the news of the city since logs slid down its steep streets to the harbor and miners caroused in its bars before heading north to Alaska’s gold fields, was to print its final edition yesterday.
Seattle becomes the second major US city to lose a newspaper this year, following Denver, as many US dailies face uncertain futures, battered by quickly declining ad revenue in the age of the Internet and a teetering economy.
Hearst Corp, which owns the 146-year-old P-I, said on Monday that it failed to find a buyer for the newspaper, which it put up for a 60-day sale in January after years of losing money.
The P-I’s roots date to 1863, when Seattle was still a frontier town. It will now shift to another frontier for newspapers: the Web.
“Tonight will be the final run, so let’s do it right,” publisher Roger Oglesby told the newsroom.
The P-I’s closure leaves Seattle with one major newspaper, the Seattle Times.
The Rocky Mountain News in Denver closed earlier this month after its owner, E.W. Scripps Co, couldn’t find a buyer. In Arizona, Gannett Co’s Tucson Citizen is set to close on Saturday, leaving one newspaper in that city.
And last month Hearst said it would close or sell the San Francisco Chronicle if the paper couldn’t slash expenses.
The US newspaper industry has seen ad revenue fall in recent years as advertisers migrate to the Internet, particularly to sites offering free or low-cost alternatives for classified ads. Starting last summer, the recession intensified the decline in advertising revenue in all categories. Four newspaper companies, including the owners of the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Philadelphia Inquirer, have sought bankruptcy protection in recent months.
Hearst’s decision to abandon the P-I’s newspaper format in favor of an Internet-only version is the first for a large US paper, raising questions about whether the firm can make money in a medium where others have come up short.
While the P-I’s Web site ensures it a continued presence in the Seattle news market, it will likely be a pared-down version of its former self, with a heavy reliance on blogs and links to other news outlets.
The P-I had 181 employees, but managing editor David McCumber said the Web site would employ about 20 in the newsroom operation and another 20 to sell ads. He said he would not be working on the new site.
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