Soon there will be nothing to wrap your fish with

You all remember how until last year the Stranger’s masthead read “Seattle’s Only Newspaper?” Did you ever think it might just come true?

Today Hearst put the P-I up for sale, the first step in shutting down the paper. By spring we will have one print daily in Seattle, the Times… which is struggling under mounting layoffs, the inability to close the sale on their Maine papers and local real estate, and a real lack of operating capital.

On the one hand, Hearst is handing the Times 100,000 subscribers. On the other hand, that’s like handing the captain of the Titanic a bucket. Rumors have flown that the Blethen family is trying to take the Seattle Times non-profit, but I have a hard time seeing that fly with their unions. The Times has so many rocks and shoals to navigate it’s inevitable they’re going to be out of the print business soon.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Weekly keeps getting smaller in print. It may not be much longer for this world as a print vehicle. And community newspapers, facing higher costs and increasing competition from neighborhood bloggers, are falling left and right.

So, come 2010, you might only have one paper in the city to wrap your fish in: The Stranger. Or will you? The increasing shift of focus in the Slog towards being more national and less local makes you wonder if their future isn’t as a liberal multi-user blog, BoingBoing for the young, twentysomething Capitol Hill resident.

Print in this town looks dead. But journalism in this town will not die. The death of the print P-I will finally mean the full flight of the online P-I, which as a property has been matching the Times at every step. The neighborhood blogs are filling in the gaps in the hyperlocal scene alongside local bloggers who report on their life and times. Seattlest and Metblogs are trying to take in the entire local scene with amateur journalism (though of late Seattlest has been looking decidedly less amateur). Crosscut, despite its struggles, continues to host a bevy of quality, seasoned journalists. And the Slog will probably cover local things, at least when they stop foaming at the mouth from some perceived slight long enough to take a look around.

Print is dead. Long live the Internet.

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