The Seattle Post-Intelligencer will be the largest US daily newspaper to shift to an entirely digital news product although it follows in the footsteps taken by the Christian Science Monitor, which announced last year it was scrapping its daily print issue to focus on running its website.
However, the 146-year old Seattle Post-Intelligencer sells 127,500 compared to the 52,000 the Christian Science Monitor had seen its circulation dwindle to before ceasing publication.
Frank Bennack, vice chairman and chief executive officer, Hearst, said the decision to stop publishing the newspaper was an extraordinarily difficult one.
Bennack said: "We extend our profound gratitude and admiration to our P-I colleagues who have done such an exemplary job under extremely difficult circumstances over the past several years."
Seattlepi.com will employ a staff of around 20 news and web producers, down from an editorial staff of 150. In addition another 20 newly hired advertising sales staff will work on the site.
Hearst will now focus on turning Seattlepi.com into the "leading news and information portal in the region" and stressed that the title was not a newspaper online, but something more.
Steven Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, said: "It's an effort to craft a new type of digital business with a robust, community news and information website at its core."
Seattlepi.com will continue to cover City Hall politics and court stories as well as popular staff blogs like Seattle 911 with Casey McNerthney and the Big Blog by Monica Guzman.
Hearst will also transfer columnists online and the cartooning and commentary of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey.
But it will also include more than 150 reader blogs, community data bases and photo galleries.
Community or hyperlocal sites are one of the new buzz words of the US press and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's move to digital follow efforts by the New York Times to launch local two community sites featuring posts by New York Times journalists and community members.
Commercially Swartz said Hearst would be assembling a staff to form a local digital agency that will sell local businesses advertising on Seattlepi.com as well as the digital advertising products of its partners, which include Yahoo! for display advertising, Kaango for general marketplaces and Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask.com for search engine marketing.
Seattlepi.com will be led editorially by Michelle Nicolosi, executive producer, who has headed the site since 2005. She was previously an investigative reporter at the Seattle P-I and before that the editor of Online Journalism Review.
In January, Nielsen ranked Seattlepi.com among the top 30 newspaper sites with 1.8m unique users. The site has an average of 4m unique monthly visitors, according to internal Hearst tracking.
The closure of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer leaves the north west city with only one newspaper -- the bigger Seattle Times, which is also struggling under heavy debts.
For Hearst, turning off the presses at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer follows news from the weekend stating unions have agreed to 150 job cuts at another Hearst title, the San Francisco Chronicle, which has also been threatened with closure.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is the second US newspaper to close this year after EW Scripps ceased publication of the Rocky Mountain News at the end of February
Recent blog coverage of the newspaper crises on BR:
- This is not a newspaper website.
- How much more would you pay for your newspaper?
- Would you buy a failing newspaper?
- Paid for content high on Guardian wish list.
- How US newspapers are failing and the local future.
- Newsday -- beginning of the end for free content?
- Is it time for newspapers to start charging for content?
- Could the New York Times go under?