Most Dead Newspapers Not Doing Well Online

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Falling circulations and shrinking advertising revenues have forced dozens of newspapers to close down their presses over the last three years.

Among that many, a brave few — eleven since 2007, by Erica Smith of Paper Cut’s count —  have decided to go where the readership and advertising is moving – online

We decided to check in on them to see how they’re faring. With a few notable exceptions, it wasn’t pretty.

Click here to start the slideshow →
Image: Bob King

Ann Arbor News (Chicago, MI)

Years in print: 174

Stopped printing: July 2009

Will begin publishing online at: www.annarbor.com

The Ann Arbor News, a local from Chicago, announced in March 2009 that due to mounting losses, it will stop printing after July, and will begin publishing on www.annarbor.com. All 272 employees were laid off and told they can apply for jobs at the website.

How is the Web site doing? Unique visits to the site have gone up from about 0 last year to about 4,000 in May 2009. But the paper will officially move online in July 2009, so we'll have to wait and watch to see how the website does.

Asian Week (San Francisco, CA)

Years in print: 30

Stopped printing: Jan 2009

Now publishes online at: www.asianweek.com

AsianWeek is the oldest English language newspaper serving the Asian/Pacific Islander American community. After 30 years, the last print edition rolled off its presses on Jan 2, 2009. The San Francisco based company continued its online operations at asianweek.com. It laid of most of its 11 employees.

How's the Web site doing? The site had over 21,000 unique visitors in May 2009, up from 14,800 last year. But since the paper's last print edition in Jan 2009, unique visits to the site dropped from 28,000 to 21,000 in May 2009.

Bloomfield Free Press (Bloomfield, IN)

Stopped publishing: Feb 2009

Now publishes online at: www.bloomfieldfreepress.com

The Bloomfied Free Press was shut down in Feb 2009. Citing rising cost of postage, printing and materials, the company decided to only publish at bloomfieldfreepress.com.The company keeps the look and content of its web version similar to its print edition.

In a letter announcing the move, the editor blamed the USPS's hike in rates and 'less-than-stellar and on-time and accurate delivery system.'

How's the Web site doing? The website does not seem to be getting any more popular - unique visitors to the site dropped to 4,200 in May 2009, from 7,600 in May 2008.

The Bridge (Southeast Minneapolis)

Years in print: 3

Stopped printing: June 2009

Now publishes online at: www.bridgelandnews.org

Bridgeland News was a monthly paper, serving the 10 neighborhoods that span the river in southeast Minneapolis.

The paper's publisher Becky Clawson announced the move on its website, saying the Bridge was losing money despite the recent redesign and page size changes.

She did try to look on the bright side, though: 'Every year, this paper uses 22 tons of newsprint, not to mention the energy used in the printing and distribution processes. By making the shift to an online news source, we'll do our part to help this community use resources more wisely and lower its carbon footprint,' she said.

The Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Years in print: 90

Stopped daily printing: May 2008 (The paper shifted its daily coverage to the web, and now publishes two weekly tabloids)

Now publishes online at: www.madison.com/tct/

The AP describes this Madison, WI local newspaper as, 'the feisty afternoon newspaper that helped define this city and championed a unique brand of Midwestern progressivism.' Due to falling circulation, the paper reduced its print edition to twice a week and laid off 40-60 employees.

Christian Science Monitor (National)

Years in print: 100

Stopped printing: April 2009

Now publishes online at: www.csmonitor.com

The 100-year-old paper stopped publishing its print edition after March 2009, becoming the first national daily to move completely online. The WSJ quotes editor John Yemma as saying, 'The Christian Science Monitor recognises that daily print has become too costly and energy-intensive.'

But Yemma did not write off print altogether: 'There's still a role for print, but one that is geared to weekends, when people still can find time to catch up...and experience the pleasures of print,' he said.

How's the website doing? Unique visits to site grew to 840,000 in May 2009, from 620,000 last year. The last print edition was on March 2009, but traffic to the site has slowed since then. Unique visitors to the site were almost 1.2 million in March 2009, dropped to 838,000 in May 2009.

Kansas City Kansan (Kansas City, Kansas)

Years in print: 87

Stopped printing: Jan 2009

Now publishes online at: www.kansascitykansan.com

The Kansas City Kansan covers Kansas City and towns in towns in Wyandotte County. After recent attempts to cut costs by reducing its print edition to twice a week didn't work, the publication decided to completely stopped printing in Jan 2009.

How's the website doing? Unique visits to site were 8,300 last May and dropped to 8,000 this year. Since the last print edition in Jan 2009, traffic to the site has dropped more than 50 per cent from 19,000 to 8,000 in May 2009.

Kentucky Post (Northern Kentucky)

Years in print: 127

Stopped printing: Jan 2008

Now publishes online at: www.kypost.com

The Kentucky Post and its sister publication the Cincinnati Post owned by E.W.Scripps Co. had a joint operating agreement with Gannett. When the agreement expired in 2007, Gannett refused to renew it, and it was no longer feasible for the two papers to keep printing.

A study by Princeton economists says that since the Posts closed, both the number of candidates for city council and local board posts, and the number of people who showed up to vote has dropped. The study also says that the incumbent politicians and board members now have higher chances of staying in office.

How's the website doing? Since the paper stopped printing in Dec 2007, traffic to the site has grown from 49,000 unique visits to 270,000 in May 2009.

Rhinoceros Times (Greensboro, NC)

Years in print: 6

Stopped printing: September 2008

Now publishes online at: www.rhinotimes.com

Citing rising production costs and falling advertising, Greensboro, North Carolina's weekly conservative newspaper printed its last edition on September 19, 2008 and moved completely online.

How's the website doing? Unique visits to the site dropped to 10,000 from 13,000 last year. Traffic has been marginally up since when it went completely online in September 2009.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer (Seattle, WA)

Years in print: 146

Stopped printing: March 2009

Now publishes online at: www.seattlepi.com

Owned by The Hearst Corporation, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was the city's oldest business. It announced its decision to stop printing on March 17, 2009, becoming the largest daily newspaper to go completely online.

How's the Web site doing? Traffic to the site shot up to 753,000 unique visitors in March 2009 - the month the paper stopped printing, and has been stable since.

Tucson Citizen (Tuscon, AZ)

Years in print: 138

Stopped printing: March 2009

Now publishes online at: www.tucsoncitizen.com

Arizona's oldest newspaper announced its switch to online publishing in March 2009. Earlier in the year, the company had said that it would be forced to close down its presses if it failed to find a buyer for some of its assets. It will lay off about 60 of its employees.

The Gannett Co. owned publication has now launched a beta version of its website -- on WordPress.

The AP reproduced the Tucson Citizen's coverage of Tuscson Marshal Wyatt Earp's 1881 shootout at the OK Corral in Tombstone:

'A day when blood flowed as water, and human life was held as a shuttlecock, a day always to be remembered as witnessing the bloodiest and the deadliest street fight that has ever occurred in this place, or probably in the territory.'

How's the Web site doing? Traffic is essentially flat over the last year. The site is stil in beta.

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