Goodbye P-I

Robert McClure of the The Seattle P-I visited one of my classes a few weeks ago. Earlier that morning he had been cleaning out his desk his office of the dying newspaper. After hearing of the Hearst Corporation’s decision to stop printing the paper, his first action was to secure a domain name for his blog, Dateline Earth. McClure is as frustratingly speculative towards the future of journalism as any other of his peers. What is for certain is that he will continue to research and report on environmental issues sans the P-I.

In reading Jon Talton’s article it becomes clear why newspapers around the country are experiencing similar fates to the P-I. The problem lied in an unsustainable business model. While it may be tempting for reporters to resent the changes and accuse the internet of destroying their livelihoods, Kathy Gill’s blog explains that readers were never really paying for the content. The content was greatly subsidized by advertising.

Digital media has eliminated the bundled news product and allowed consumers to become producers of news at the push of a button. I believe that the traditional daily paper will barely exist in the near-future. This seems like a grim outlook because those dailies provided decades of quality investigative reporting and public service. However, reading Clay Shirky’s article and listening to McClure gives me hope. I think people still want the whistleblowers and watch-dogs to keep them informed. The demand is there. What remains to be seen is who is going to foot the bill.


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