The Seattle Post Intelligencer announced Friday that the 146-year-old newspaper is up for immediate sale. If parent company Hearst does not find a buyer in sixty days, the Seattle P-I will likely shuts its doors. They will shut down the presses for certain, but may keep the digital site alive.
In this economy, with the print newspaper industry on the verge of collapse, who wants to buy a newspaper? Who thinks he can turn a money-losing paper around, especially in a two-newspaper town? Any sane buyer, if one can be found, will kill the printed paper and will save the value of Post-Intelligencer brand name for the website.
Pundits debate the remaining lifespan of printed newspapers but mostly agree that the end will come and newspapers will publish only digitally. This New Yorker article, Out of Print states:
Philip Meyer, in his book “The Vanishing Newspaper” (2004), predicts that the final copy of the final newspaper will appear on somebody’s doorstep one day in 2043.
The Atlantic‘s prediction is more dire:
Regardless of what happens over the next few months, The (New York) Times is destined for significant and traumatic change. At some point soon—sooner than most of us think—the print edition, and with it The Times as we know it, will no longer exist. And it will likely have plenty of company.
The great newspapers of the newsprint era can still be great media giants. The change should not be mourned.
When Gutenberg invented the printing press, how happy were all the monks who could quit copying books by hand? Some scribes complained that printed books would diminish the value of hand copied books. There was a period of overlap where scribes continued to hand copy books and to denounce the printing press under their breath. History has shown that people adjusted.
Watch this video of Steven Swartz, president of Hearst’s newspaper division making the announcement of the pending sale to the staff. According to Seattle P-I’s own article, the staff reacted to the announcement (leaked the day before) was as one would expect: solemn, tearful, and confused.
But going by the video, the announcement comes off differently. No one seems to be paying much attention to Swartz. But the phones keep ringing and getting answered. One blonde employee in the background continues to work at her computer. Near the end of the video, she runs out of the room.
Perry White (or whoever the dude is standing behind Swarz) shows enough anguish for everyone. He folds and unfolds his arms; he runs his hand over his head, cricks his neck, shields his eyes. I’m no body language pro, but by the end of the announcement, he seems bored. He starts checking his fingernails and shifting his weight.
Start checking your watch, bro, time is running out.