LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Hearst Corp plans to roll out the final print edition of its ailing Seattle Post-Intelligencer on Tuesday then move it online, ending speculation about the fate of the 146-year-old newspaper as crumbling advertising and the Internet wallop the industry.
Hearst, which failed over two months to find a buyer for the venerable daily, on Monday said it will move 20 of the newspaper’s workers to the new, free online business, while another 145 had taken severance packages.
The Post-Intelligencer, which Hearst said is the largest daily newspaper to migrate entirely to an online version, underscores the depth of a sector downturn as readers increasingly get their news online and a deepening recession undercuts advertising spending across the globe.
Newspapers from the storied Rocky Mountain News to the San Francisco Chronicle have either closed or are struggling to streamline enough to survive what analysts say may be a long-term slump, with U.S. newspaper ad revenue diving 15 percent in 2008.
“The P-I has a rich 146-year history of service to the people of the Northwest, which makes the decision to stop publishing the newspaper an extraordinarily difficult one,” Frank Bennack, chief executive of the Hearst Corp, said.
“Our goal now is to turn seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region.”
Hearst may also close the San Francisco Chronicle — which lost more than $50 million in 2008 and may lose more this year — unless it can save money via layoffs and other cost cuts.
Over the weekend, the paper’s largest union agreed to contract concessions and at least 150 union job cuts that Hearst said were essential to keeping the newspaper open.
And last month, EW Scripps folded the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News in Denver. On Monday, a group of its former journalists and three investors announced they would launch an online news Website aimed at the Denver market, if they are able to sign up 50,000 subscribers by April 23.
The site, indenvertimes.com, will focus on local news and feature live interactive chats, mobile feeds and advanced technologies, the group said in a statement.
On Monday, Hearst stressed it will not try to create an online newspaper but instead aim for a “new type of digital business,” creating an agency to sell local business advertising and setting up a community-focused news and information site.
The media giant plans to sell advertising on the products of partners from Yahoo to Google. The site will also host breaking news from City Hall, courts, blogs from prominent local residents, columns, and photo galleries, it said in a statement.
The Post-Intelligencer lost $14 million in 2008 and may lose more this year, Hearst had said.
The Seattle Times now becomes the only print newspaper remaining in the city. That paper is owned by the Blethen family, with Sacramento-based publisher McClatchy owning a minority stake.
Additional reporting by Edwin Chan in Los Angeles and Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Edwin Chan, Bernard Orr