On February 27, at midnight, the Rocky Mountain News published its final story – “Goodbye, Colorado.” The paper was started on April 23, 1959 and was just 55 short of its 150th anniversary. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a newspaper which has been in operation for 146 years, has announced it will discontinue its print edition. The paper will maintain a web presence at www.seattlepi.com.
Brief History of American Newspapers
American newspapers began as short pamphlets of stories, commentary, and opinion. News was of greater importance in the lead up to and during the American Revolution and more papers were put into regular circulation during that time. After the American Revolution newspapers were largely political propaganda; Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton both financially supported papers that represented their particular political philosophies. The invention of the electric telegraph in the mid 1800s allowed for the quick communication of information. The Associated Press, an international service that shares news stories filed by local or freelance reporters, was founded in 1846. During the Progressive Era, newspaper reporters, known as “muckrakers,” conducted in-depth investigations of corruption and scandal. As the 19th century drew to a close, powerful newspaper owners such as William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer pushed sensationalistic stories as well as solid reporting. The rise of television in the 1950s and 1960s and, later, the rise of the internet in the 1990s and 2000s threatened the status of newspapers as the preeminent source of news information. The advent of free online classifieds services, such as Craigslist, has further hit the newspaper’s bottom line as they have seen their ad revenue sharply drop. Today, newspapers in most major American cities are owned by a handful of corporations: McClatchy , Gannett, Hearst, Sun-Times Media Group, etc. Newspapers are important as they provide in-depth local reporting that television and the internet (thus far) cannot. Possible solutions include: mircopayments for viewing online articles; switching to online only publication; turning ownership to nonprofit organizations that run a newspaper as a public service; and using citizen news organizations (like the Citizen’s Daily Brief) to keep the news relevant and the public informed.