Friday, March 6, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I'm trying to imagine a near-future world of newspapers, but I just can't quite do it.

When I was a kid walking to high school, I'd regularly pass a newspaper box (whatever they're called). If I had a spare quarter, I'd buy the daily. It was part of my routine to read the editorials, check out the local news, and follow my favorite comics. As I recall, I was a real fan of Wilbur Landry's international coverage (I hope I got his name right). In class I'd invariably be asked to share sections with other students. Plenty of kids read the newspaper back then. Not half, certainly not most, but plenty did.

These days I can't remember the last time I heard a college student refer to a newspaper article, other than one from our college paper, in class. Certainly a reasonable number of my students (not as many as I'd like, of course) educate themselves about the world around them. But, as is well known, they gravitate to differing media. Why read print when the online world is so much more convenient? Heck, I let my paper subscription lapse years ago.

That's why I'm a little saddened but hardly surprised to learn that a major daily, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, is preparing to fire large numbers of editorialists, style writers, designers, and other folks, leaving a skeleton crew of about 20 to run an online-only version.

According to the New York Times writer Richard Perez-Pena, "The Post-Intelligencer, with a weekday circulation of more than 100,000, would be the first large American newspaper to stop printing but continue publishing on the Internet."

Seattle will still have its Times paper. And plenty of big-city papers continue to claw their ways through the days. We'll always have the NYT, right? But even my half-hearted nostalgia for inky fingers and overfilled recycling bins can't change the fact: We are witnessing the end of the newspaper as we've known it.

Read the entire article (online, of course): Hearst’s Seattle Paper May Become Web-Only

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