Seattle Post-Intelligencer Goes Web Only

Posted on March 21, 2009

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has moved entirely to the Internet. The P-I's last print edition was last Tuesday. Now the paper is online only with a reduced staff. The New York Times says the move will be a challenge for The Seattle Times, which will now face a leaner online rival that is no longer burdened with a print edition. The Times also says one day Seattle may have no print newspaper.

But The P-I, as it is called, will resemble a local Huffington Post more than a traditional newspaper, with a news staff of about 20 people rather than the 165 it had, and a site with mostly commentary, advice and links to other news sites, along with some original reporting.

Other newspapers have closed and many more are threatened. But the transition to an all-digital product for The P-I will be especially closely watched in an industry that is fast losing revenue and is casting around for a new economic model.

For one thing, the closing may end up putting greater pressure on the surviving and financially struggling Seattle Times, because of the end of a joint operating agreement between the two papers. It may even bring closer the day when Seattle has no local paper at all.

And the way The P-I is changing might hint at a path for future newspaper closings. To some extent, in shifting its business model, it will enter a new realm of competition. It will compete not just with the print-and-ink Times, but also with an established local news Web site,, a much smaller nonprofit organization that focuses on the Northwest. The move shows how some newspapers, in the future, may not vanish but move the battle from print to the digital arena.

It's highly likely that Seattle and many other cities will one day no longer have print newspapers. The electronic reading devices continue to improve and will soon easily carry the latest edition of the day's news in an easy-to-read form. With a dwindling demographic that even reads printed news most of the nation's newspapers will find it's going to get harder and harder to maintain them and afford them.

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