Goodbye Seattle P-I

By kate on March 17th, 2009

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It’s a sad day in Seattle as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer stops its presses for the last time. I wanted to write a post today about what our society is losing as newspapers close down, but I re-read my 2005 post, “Why Newspapers are Still Relevant,” and realized it’s all pretty much there (except the new sense of urgency and despair I now feel).

We won’t entirely lose the editorial voice and professional journalism from the P-I as it continues online, although from what I can tell, these will be provided by a skeleton crew of less-experienced employees. And you know what? I’m the kind of dinosaur that still prefers a newspaper, so I’ll be resignedly reading the Seattle Times. I’m sure I’ll see relevant and important P-I articles online as they pass through the blogging echo chamber, but that’ll only be supplementary.

I’d like to explore a fantasy for a minute, if you’ll bear with me. Those of us who specifically appreciate what a paper paper can offer (e.g., large format, skimmability, article curatorship) are certainly a shrinking group, but there are still hundreds of thousands of us out there (if not millions). I accept that the old-school printing press/delivery approach is becoming expensive and obsolete, but maybe there’s another solution that technology can offer us. What about a home printer that works as usual, but with the addition of a spool of newsprint? Imagine a software back-end that allows an editor to do his or her editorial work to digitally create a newspaper (or even several variants), and then “publishing” it online to any subscribers with such a printer. This could be an editor at a single paper, or someone syndicating content from multiple sources. Those with a printer could even do some small-scale distribution if they found it worth their while.

As our numbers shrink and we become less attractive to advertisers, the onus falls more heavily on paper readers to pay for our preference, and this is one way it could work.


Filed under: current events, media
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