By Dan Sewell
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
CINCINNATI, Dec. 31 -- The Cincinnati and Kentucky Post newspapers printed their final editions Monday, ending a 126-year run. The main front-page headline in the last Cincinnati and Kentucky newspaper editions proclaimed "-30-" -- a symbol traditionally used by journalists, printers and telegraphers to signal the end of a dispatch.
"It's a sad day, but we're going out with heads high. This paper made a difference in the community," editor Mike Philipps said in the story.
The Cincinnati Post and its sister Kentucky Post had been struggling for years, part of a national decline in afternoon newspapers and of daily newspapers overall. E.W. Scripps Co., based in Cincinnati, decided in July to close the Post newspapers when a joint operating agreement with Gannett, which owns the Cincinnati Enquirer, expired Monday.
In another story in Monday's editions, headlined "Web site to carry on Post tradition," the Post reported that the Scripps company will keep a Kentucky presence with KyPost.com. Beginning Tuesday, the site will supersede the Post site and share content with the Scripps-owned Cincinnati TV station, WCPO-TV, and its Web site.
A Post employee will stay on as the site's managing editor. The site will use a full-time reporter, freelance journalists and contributions from "citizen journalists," in addition to WCPO and news services. The site will focus on the three counties just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, the northern Kentucky area where the majority of the Post newspapers' last subscribers were.
The site expects to be sustained by advertising, particularly ads targeted to what it calls "life in the 859," the northern Kentucky area code.
"It's a low-cost approach, but if you want to maintain the presence, it's probably the only alternative," said John Morton, an independent newspaper industry analyst based in Silver Spring. "It's better than going out completely, and clearly there is opportunity there."
Rich Boehne, Scripps's chief operating officer, said Scripps hopes to gradually build KyPost.com. "It's been an incredible brand in northern Kentucky," he said.
Boehne was among dozens of newspaper executives and retirees who gathered to watch the last editions roll off at the Cincinnati Enquirer's printing center. "It's sad but inevitable," said William R. Burleigh, Scripps's chairman and a former Post editor.
The final editions Monday presented the newspaper as a keepsake and included stories about The Post's history, remembrances from staff and readers, archival photos of such events as actor Cary Grant's 1955 visit to the Post newsroom, and farewell columns. About 9,000 extra copies were printed beyond the paper's weekday circulation of about 27,000.
The Post was known for colorful, lively journalism, investigations and crusades against political cronyism and for civic reforms, and for launching numerous employees to successful careers in journalism, communications and education.
Originally called the Penny Paper when it was started in 1881, the paper was renamed the Penny Post by E.W. Scripps, who assumed control in 1883. The newspaper became the Cincinnati Post in 1890, when its Kentucky Post edition began.
The Post newsroom was down to about 50 people at the end, and its daily circulation was less than one-tenth of the 270,000-plus it enjoyed in 1960, before changing lifestyles, the expansion of television news, and later, the rise of multimedia news and advertising sources sapped readership. Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio's two largest cities, each lost an afternoon paper decades ago.
Joint operating agreements under the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970 allow newspapers to merge business operations when one is facing financial failure. Gannett notified the Post three years ago that it would not renew their agreement when it ended.
Scripps plans to split its businesses into two companies in June. A new company called Scripps Networks Interactive will take national cable networks such as the Food Network and HGTV and online shopping businesses while E.W. Scripps focuses on newspapers and broadcast TV stations.