By paulgillin | March 26, 2009 - 5:37 am - Posted in Fake News

This site has received quite a bit of attention for the “R.I.P.” column, which has been a fixture on our sidebar since day one. However, we think the headline for that column may have run its course and we’d like your opinion.

The big problem is that not every title in that column has ceased to exist. The Capital Times, for example, is still plugging away online and even delivers a print publication twice a week. The Ann Arbor News is about to go the same route and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has abandoned print but is bullishly trying to reinvent itself on the Web.

If we have the Capital Times there, we really should add the Christian Science Monitor, which is about to go weekly in print but stay 24/7 online. Several papers have recently cut back to four or five days a week and more are likely to follow. They aren’t R.I.P. but neither are they really daily newspapers any more. Should they be on the list?

So, your opinions please. Should we:

1. Leave R.I.P. as it is on the assumption that nothing is perfect in this world?

2. Leave the title as R.I.P. but limit the list to papers that are truly defunct? Gone? Pffft?

3. Leave the title R.I.P., list papers that can no longer be considered dailies but may exist in other forms and add a silly disclaimer like this one?

4. Change R.I.P. to “Out of Print” and list papers that can no longer be considered dailies but that may live in other forms?

5. Something else we haven’t thought of?

Sorry for the lengthy explanation, but this kind of thing really does cause us to lose sleep.



This entry was posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009 at 5:37 am and is filed under Fake News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. March 26, 2009 @ 7:05 am

    RIP -> Out of Print

    Then you can have comments from people who can evaluate:
    • which of them are truly “dead” and have been liquidated,
    • which of them are still trying to be ad supported on the web, (“Howzat woikin’ fo’ ya?”)
    • which of them have partnered with some form of income producer, and the type of partnership, and
    • which ones have given up on making a profit, and living off some form of public service assistance.

    If you had told me that the US miloitary would be responsible for all this trouble, the post-IP revolution, I wouldn’t have believed you.

    Posted by msbpodcast
  2. March 26, 2009 @ 7:09 am

    Only put the dead ones. Dead and gone. No web, no partial printing, just the truly dead ones.

    Posted by Joe
  3. March 26, 2009 @ 7:22 am

    By the way, I am not entirely ignoring the papers that are turning into “boutique” operations, but, though the may have adjusted the frequency and reach of their publication, they’re still clinging to the old model in some market niche. (That goes for peer-reviewed journals as well.)

    I would now like to propose adding television stations to the watch list.

    RIP -> “Off the Air”

    Then we can follow the decimation that will occur in the other media spaces (audio and video) with the same criteria.

    Eventually everything will be digitized, packetized and transmitted over the same infrastructure.

    Posted by msbpodcast
  4. March 26, 2009 @ 7:26 am

    Joe, while I agree that there is some satisfaction to be derived from the “They’re dead Jim” category, there is much more information (and discussion) that can be had by following the papers ‘post-trans-substantiation”

    Posted by msbpodcast
  5. March 26, 2009 @ 8:47 am

    My two cents: There are really three categories:
    1. Maintain RIP for entities that are gone entirely, both print and online, like the Rocky.
    2. Start a second column called “Second Life”, listing things like the P-I that are gone entirely from print but survive online.
    3. Start a third column called Reinventions. Include in it papers like Ann Arbor & the CS Monitor — those that have fundamentally changed how they do business and have gone online-first plus 1, 2 or 3-times a week print. Detroit wouldn’t quite make that yet, but I’m betting the newsstand-only days will be chopped very soon.

    This would provide a very useful database for anyone keeping score; to my knowledge nobody is maintaining one right now. (There’s also no good comprehensive DB of all online news startups, but that’s a more ambitious project for someone to tackle.)

    A fourth option, if you’re really ambitious, would be “Life Support” or “Watch List” — papers or groups in bankruptcy or otherwise on the brink. “DNR”, if you’re snarkishly inclined.

    For all your listings, change how they link: link them to your own posts at the time of death or transubstantiation, so as to be useful to the peruser looking for details on the demise or reinvention. Right now for example, the King County Journal link redirects to PNWLocalNews, which doesn’t inform.

    Posted by Martin Langeveld
  6. March 26, 2009 @ 11:27 am

    Have 2 categories — R.I.P. for totally dead, and O.O.P. for online online (Out of Print).

    Posted by Frank Nachtman
  7. March 26, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

    Out of Print. I don’t think you need to get more complicated, and the R.I.P. just doesn’t fit for those that may end up thriving, in some form.

    Posted by hscissons
  8. March 26, 2009 @ 2:34 pm

    Leave it R.I.P. Every one has a a “yeah, but…” excuse but when a large, former daily, formerly print newspaper no longer exists as a large, daily, print newspaper then it’s dead, as far as my definition of “newspaper” goes. Call it what you like. It’s still dead.

    Posted by Gordon R. Durand
  9. March 27, 2009 @ 4:28 am

    leave it.

    Posted by Peter
  10. March 27, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

    RIP is fine for the headline, and it goes with “Newspaper Death Watch”, but a little elaboration would be in order for those that aren’t entirely gone. Just add in parentheses a qualifier as appropriate–e.g. Christian Science Monitor (now web only) or Capital Times (now printing twice per week). When the institution has abandoned its name, like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, it should be treated as gone, without a qualifier. The website may have had its origin with the newpaper, but it’s really a new entity, not a continuation of the newspaper in digital form, like the Christian Science Monitor is.

    Posted by Rick D.
  11. March 27, 2009 @ 4:56 pm

    How about breaking it into two? RIP for those that are truly gone and RIFF (Reincarnated in Form or Frequency)f or those whose masthead still appears either on-line or less then daily.

    Posted by Bob Stovall - Colorado Springs
  12. March 28, 2009 @ 7:50 am

    Thank you, everyone. Quite a range of opinion! I love Martin Langeveld’s approach, which Bob S. and Frank N. both endorsed in a slightly different form. I think two columns sounds about right. Check out what I came up with at left.

    Great advice!

    Posted by paulgillin
  13. March 30, 2009 @ 11:48 am

    I like the RIP title, but I’m brand new to the site. Perhaps you can consider changing the title to “OOPs” for Out Of Print…. if no one else has already suggested it. 🙂 Thanks – alfonse

    Posted by Alfonse
  14. March 30, 2009 @ 3:01 pm

    The RIP title should be about absolutely dead and gone in all forms, but imho newspapers that are just shifting to online should be on their own deathwatch list. They mostly seem to be doing this as a last-ditch effort to make money/maintain relevance. Except for the CS Monitor, as it has been working on this as a business plan for more than a year, and seems to be doing this by design, rather than desperation.

    Posted by LisatheLibrarian