Seattle Paper Switches to Web

The Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/17/business/media/17paper.html?_r=1&hp

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its last print edition on March 17 before moving entirely to a web-based publication. This move makes The P-I the largest American newspaper to make that step, and will now resemble other web-only news media. “The move shows how some newspapers, in the future, may not vanish but move the battle from print to the digital arena.” About 145 people lost their jobs, as only 20 employees are needed to make the website run. The P-I lost about $14 million in 2008, which prompted the move. The move has been praised as “innovative” and as a creation of “new journalism.” But perhaps this quote says it better:

Ruth Teichroeb, an investigative reporter who was among those who lost their jobs, said she worried about what would be lost. “The thing that’s always been closest to my heart is The P-I’s coverage of the underdog, people who are invisible,” she said. “Those people who have the least voice in society are losing access to another part of the mainstream media.”

My Two Cents: It’s hard to look beyond the 145 people now out of work to the bottom-line attitude that prompted this change. Besides those jobs, what else is lost in the transition to an Internet-only publication? The nostalgia of print media, but ok, that’s inconsequential. The many Washingtonians who depended on The P-I for their news, now potentially ostracized from a media they either do not have access to (for socio-economic reasons) or simply do not understand (the elderly). How is the news media doing its job when it cannot reach those people, those underdogs Ruth Teichroeb worries about? You can argue that an Internet-only publication can be just as effective- look at all the blogs and whatnot that have reached people. But those media started as Internet-only. When a print media makes the move to the web, something is lost that cannot be found again. And we are forced to ask is it worth it?

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