Journalistic Practice

Newspapers make move to online only

Eric Pryne, Seattle Times

If the Seattle Post-Intelligencer stops publishing in print but stays alive in some form online — as now seems likely — it won't be the first daily newspaper to make the move. Over the past 15 months, two failing Midwest papers have taken similar leaps. On the last day of 2007, media giant E.W. Scripps shut down the shrinking Cincinnati Post and Kentucky Post, a zoned edition that served the city's Northern Kentucky suburbs. A day later it launched, with a veteran Post editor as managing editor.

In Madison, Wis., the struggling afternoon Capital Times halted daily print publication last April and unveiled a beefed-up Web news operation. It also started two new weekly tabloid print publications.

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P-I employees try to raise funds for online site

Greg Lamm, Puget Sound Business Journal

A group of Seattle Post-Intelligencer employees is seeking to raise $250,000 to start up an online local news site if Hearst Corp. decides to shut down the daily newspaper and not pursue an online-only site of its own.

The employees are setting up a nonprofit entity called the Seattle PostGlobe. About 20 P-I staffers say they are prepared to work without pay until they can raise funds.

New York-based Hearst is seeking a buyer for the P-I. If no buyer emerges, Hearst said it will cease the print edition of the P-I. A tentative shutdown date could be March 18. Hearst is mulling over the idea of operating the P-I as an online-only venture.

The P-I employees plan to seek funds from major donors, foundations and from advertisers.

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Newspapers' decline sparks fresh interest in nonprofit models

John Christoffersen, Associated Press

As sharp revenue reductions put the future of many U.S. newspapers in doubt, one idea gaining attention is the conversion of newspapers into tax-exempt nonprofits supported by large endowments.

Although viewed by many as a long shot at best, such a radical change could be a savior for the industry and its vital role in a democracy.

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Hearst to begin charging for digital news

Shira Ovide, Digits/Wall Street Journal

Hearst said its newspapers plan to hold back at least some content from their free Web sites, launching the publisher onto the vanguard of print media companies to begin charging for their digital news and information.

A top executive at Hearst, which publishes 16 newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, said the company is mulling how much of its online offerings to keep free, while reserving some content exclusively for people who pay.

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In Baltimore, shrinking newsrooms leave no one to press the police

David Simon, Washington Post

In the halcyon days when American newspapers were feared rather than pitied, I had the pleasure of reporting on crime in the prodigiously criminal environs of Baltimore. The city was a wonderland of chaos, dirt and miscalculation, and loyal adversaries were many. Among them, I could count police commanders who felt it was their duty to demonstrate that crime never occurred in their precincts, desk sergeants who believed that they had a right to arrest and detain citizens without reporting it and, of course, homicide detectives and patrolmen who, when it suited them, argued convincingly that to provide the basic details of any incident might lead to the escape of some heinous felon. Everyone had very good reasons for why nearly every fact about a crime should go unreported.

In response to such flummery, I had in my wallet, next to my Baltimore Sun press pass, a business card for Chief Judge Robert F. Sweeney of the Maryland District Court, with his home phone number on the back. When confronted with a desk sergeant or police spokesman convinced that the public had no right to know who had shot whom in the 1400 block of North Bentalou Street, I would dial the judge.

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Newspapers: from no profit to nonprofit?

Associated Press

As sharp revenue reductions put the future of many U.S. newspapers in doubt, one idea gaining attention is the conversion of newspapers into tax-exempt nonprofits supported by large endowments.

Although viewed by many as a long shot at best, such a radical change could be a savior for the industry and its vital role in a democracy.

That's why the endowment model is drawing renewed attention as newspapers impose massive layoffs, scale back home delivery and make other drastic cuts to counter plunging advertising revenue amid a recession that has compounded struggles from the migration of readers to the Internet.

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Under weight of its mistakes, newspaper industry staggers

Howard Kurtz, Washington Post

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper recalls getting "a feeling in the pit of my stomach" when he learned that the Rocky Mountain News was shutting down.

"Even when they were uncovering corruption in the city, even when they were embarrassing us or causing us discomfort, they were making the city better," he says. "It's a huge loss."

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Markets have killed the daily newspaper. Let's get creative about the future of journalism

Steven A. Smith, Still a Newspaperman

There has been considerable energy spent on industry blogs in recent weeks debating questions that were, in my view, resolved a long time ago. That it is taking some so long to speak honestly to our problems is either testament to our industry’s notorious, self-focused blindness or confirmation that too many industry leaders were constrained from speaking their minds — speaking their truth — because of their jobs, their bosses, their bonuses or simple reticence to step out in front.

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Financial collapse threatens real journalism

David Horsey, Post-Intelligencer

In a week when Congress was consumed by debate over the best way to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to revive the economy and bail out bankers, one ailing industry was being left to fend for itself: newspapers.

Arguably, newspapers are as vital to American democracy as banks are to the American financial system. Yet the implosion of the news business is the most underreported story amid the great flood of bad economic news.

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Is environmental journalism endangered?

Caitlyn Zachry, Scripps-Howard

As news organizations across the country suffer layoffs and pay cuts, and their corporate stock prices sink, industry insiders fear that environmental journalism is becoming an endangered species.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars hosted a panel on the future of science and environmental journalism last week, featuring four speakers: Mother Nature Network columnist Peter Dykstra, Associated Press reporter Seth Borenstein, J-Lab Director Jan Schaffer and National Public Radio correspondent Elizabeth Shogren.

About a year ago, Borenstein told a reporter at the Columbia Journalism Review that, despite a Harvard report stating otherwise, he did not think environmental journalism was in trouble. The story never ran, and Borenstein is glad - about three months ago, he talked to the reporter and rescinded his statements. In one week, three of his science and environmental reporting friends were laid off.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey