Hearst kicks Seattle to the curb; Online or bust

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explosion.jpgADOTAS — Hearst sending its newspapers to the digital world from the print world would be interesting if it had an advertising revenue plan, which apparently it doesn’t, and could trigger other over-leveraged companies to collapse.

Hearst Corp. announced Friday that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was up for sale and will stop publishing unless someone buys it in 60 days. If no buyer emerges, the paper would either become a web-only publication or cease all operations. It also owns the money losing San Francisco Chronicle. According to Keith Kelly, Hearst “derived about 6.5 percent of its estimated $2 billion in total revenue from the Web. That’s better than the 3 percent that Condé Nast counts on from the Web, but still lags the 10 percent that Time Inc. is notching.”

Medianews, which had a financing deal with Hearst, Journal Register, Gatehouse and McClatchy are some of the media companies that are tittering. There is also talk of major newspaper brands likely to close in 2009.

Journalists will need to start their own businesses if they want to stay in business, and depending on online advertising alone, as Fred Wilson, at A VC blog, notes, may not be the best plan. He breaks down his revenue from his blog. He makes $30 thousand a year, and the blog is read by 150,000 people per month and gets around 250,000 page views per month.

His suggestions: “Is there a way beyond ads to compensate microjournalists? Subscription seems like one approach but what can you charge for online? Participating in expert networks might be another approach. Speaking and writing books could be a third. My gut tells me that microjournalists are going to have to do more than just post to their blog to earn a living. In fact the blog will probably be the loss leader that keeps them in the game.”

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