Update: Ken Doctor’s blog Content Bridges notes one of the most intriguing aspects of the SeattlePI.com plan: Aggregating regional advertising opportunities for business.
Rest in peace, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
When I was in Des Moines in 1982 and in Kansas City in 1990, I saw the deaths of two newspapers, the Des Moines Tribune and the Kansas City Times. So when I was unemployed in 1992, I applied all over the country, except in cities that had two newspapers.
I love the mountains, so Denver and Seattle were two cities I would have enjoyed working in. But I didn’t apply at either, because I didn’t want to be around when one of the newspapers died. Both cities had joint-operating agreements that kept the second newspaper alive a lot longer than I anticipated back in 1992.
In both Des Moines and Kansas City, the two newspapers were operated by the same company, so JOA’s were not an issue. The companies could see the duplication involved in dual staffs and the efficiencies offered by killing the afternoon paper and merging the staffs.
Even anti-trust exemptions were not enough to keep the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Rocky Mountain News going in today’s economy. The Rocky died Feb. 27. I have the final edition displayed in my office, courtesy of Judi Whetstine, who was in Denver that day.
The P-I followed suit today, announcing that Tuesday’s paper would be the last print edition, Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby announced. Seattlepi.com will continue as a news web site with a much smaller staff.
Add the deaths of the Capital-Times in Madison, Wis., last year and the cutback at both Detroit newspapers to three days per week, and two-newspaper cities are becoming increasingly scarce. Even twin papers in twin cities, such as Minneapolis-St. Paul and Dallas-Fort Worth, are viewed as precarious.
Cedar Rapids is a one-newspaper city. The Gazette is far healthier than most newspapers. But the deaths of long-established newspapers in Denver and Seattle underscore the importance of innovation and developing new business models. We have to change dramatically and swiftly.
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