The Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper has been serving the information needs of the greater Seattle area for nearly 150 years, but today's edition is its last print edition. In a move becoming more and more common these days as the Internet swallows older institutions, The Post-Intelligencer is permanently going online only.
Seattle's paper isn't alone in folding and/or transforming: The Rocky Mountain News is gone. The Tucson Citizen is ready to print its last issue on Saturday, and The San Francisco Chronicle is on very thin ice and may have to shut down soon. Northern California was the birthplace of much of the tech revolution that is killing newspapers, so it's fitting that SF might become the first major American city without a daily paper.
The bad economy is part of the immediate problem for papers, but the real issue is the rise of the Web. Sites like Craigslist share a lot (maybe most) of the blame. A lot of a newspaper money comes from classified ads. When was the last time you turned to the back of a newspaper instead of checking out Craigslist? Look for more newspaper fatalities as Kindle-style readers catch on.
I'm sure you're tempted to say, "What do I care? I get all my news online, anyway. And I can pick and choose the kinds of news I get. Plus, it's free!" Yeah, but what a lot of people don't think about is what they lose by not having a more objective source of daily information. Traditionally, papers have striven to bring the truth to readers without bias. Sure, sometimes they fail, but the intent is there. The Internet, as you may have noticed, has no interest in objectivity. It's a new enough medium to not have standards that print newspapers do. That makes it exciting to read, but often means wading through opinion masquerading as fact, as well as shoddy journalism.
Will you miss print newspapers? Do you even care? What could a print paper do to survive this current, unfriendly climate?