Newspaper Migration to the Web Begins

Recently we blogged about the fast-approaching extinction of newspapers.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, established in 1863, published for the final time today and will now exist only as an online outlet.  The news staff dropped from 165 to 20.  Other newspapers like the Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle have seen major benefit and job cuts  in order to stay afloat.

Two weeks ago, another 100+ year-old newspaper folded when the Rocky Mountain News ceased publication. According to an Associated Press report on FoxNews.com, staffers from the defunct paper have teamed with three local entrepreneurs in an attempt to launch a digital version of the paper.

With backing from three entrepreneurs, staffers of the recently shuttered Rocky Mountain News plan to start an online news publication if they can get 50,000 paying subscribers by April 23 _ what would have been the News’ 150th anniversary.

The local venture, InDenverTimes.com, would go live on May 4 if backers meet their subscription goal.

The site would offer some news free, with advertising revenue footing part of the bill. Readers who buy subscriptions starting at $4.99 a month for a year’s commitment would get extra features, including columns, interactive features, feeds to mobile devices and customizable content.

“Great journalism can still be good business,” said Kevin Preblud, one of the three entrepreneurs behind the venture. He owns a local service company and is on the board of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival.

The E.W. Scripps Co. shut down the News last month, citing losses that reached $16 million last year.

With the loss of so many newspaper jobs, where will these editors, reporters and columnists all wind up?  Online is certainly a viable option, but the amount of positions, as evidenced by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer online staffing, is limited.

As public relations professionals, we have all built our reputations by the relationships and access we have earned with journalists at these newspapers.  Now, there are fewer of them to foster relationships with and many may become our competitors as journalists turn to public relations as a new career path.

Kate Ray, a journalism student at New York University wrote an interesting story today in Media Bistro on just what veteran displaced newspaper journalists are doing to find work.

This is a situation that will continue to evolve and will impact the entire communications business. We all need to closely monitor how it plays out.

Tom Cosentino

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