We already know there are publications available on the web, and many have made online publishing the thrust of their business. Included among these are Salon, Slate, Grist and Crosscut, just to name a few. Clearly this model is well in place, and online publications will continue to emerge.
Newspapers, however, continue to straddle the line between print and pixels. They have an online presence, but still hold on dearly to their sacred cash-cows. Although the Internet makes trees and trucks expendable, newspaper executives just can’t bring themselves to fully part with those two rather expensive items.
But last weekend a newspaper in Wisconsin shut down its presses, and moved online. The Capitol Times, in Madison, made the decision amid shrinking print revenues. The aim now is to flourish on the web, although it will take some time.
Such transitions have long been predicted as newspapers continue to struggle financially. Actual instances of killing the print edition for the Internet are rare, though. In our backyard, rumors have circulated that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is giving consideration to being a trail-blazer in this regard, possibly becoming the first large-market daily to shutter its print product. The P-I’s owner, Hearst, is an investor in flexible display screen and e-ink technology, which some believe would take the place of the newspaper. And Bill Richards laid out the rationale, with revenue analysis, for making the P-I a fully online publication in Crosscut last November.
Congratulations to the Capitol Times for taking this bold step. Hopefully in the not-so-distant future it will become much more common.
– Jody Chatalas