Almost a month after the folding of The Cincinnati Post, many wonder where the future of newspapers lies in an age of new, emerging media trends.
The Post was an afternoon newspaper published six days a week, composed of The Cincinnati Post and The Kentucky Post. It ran its last issue Dec. 31, 2007, after operating for more than 126 years.
According to Miami University journalism professor John Lowery, the loss of the Post took place long before Dec. 31.
“For years the circulation of the Post has been in a freefall,” Lowery said. “I think the ones who will lose the most are those in northern Kentucky, because they really depended on this paper.”
He said that in the final years of the paper, more than half of the readership was from northern Kentucky.
Lowery worked for the Cincinnati Post as a copy editor. He enjoyed his time with the company and thought it had a nice, hometown focus.
Since the 1970s, the newspaper has been under a Joint Operation Agreement (JOA).
“Once the Post entered into the JOA, we knew (the agreement) wasn’t going to last forever, yet the Post couldn’t last without it,” he said.
From a news release in 2004, the E.W. Scripps Company announced that the JOA held between Gannett and E.W. Scripps since the 1970s would end Dec. 31. Gannett owns The Cincinnati Enquirer and E.W. Scripps was the parent company of both The Cincinnati Post and The Kentucky Post. Though the newspaper, which covered the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky communities, is no longer operating, Gannett continues to operate www.kypost.com, Northern Kentucky’s online news source.
Called “Life in the (859),” northern Kentucky’s area code, the Web site serves as a continuation of The Kentucky Post, which was owned by Gannett, the same company that owned The Cincinnati Post.
The Web site is updated daily from a variety of feeds, including WCPO channel 9, content from Scripps Howard and freelance stories, according to Mark Neikirk, managing editor of kypost.com.
Neikirk was an editor for the Post for 24 years and was one of the final employees as it closed. He began working for kypost.com immediately after the print publication’s closure. This Web site is devoted to news in Northern Kentucky, he said.
“I think there is great opportunity for this Web site,” Neikirk said. “We hope the loyal readers (of the Kentucky Post and Cincinnati Post) will discover this site and rely on it for their news.”
Kerry Duke, who is set to be the Web site’s managing editor, said that there are no up-to-date statistics regarding traffic to the Web site, but he thinks the Web site has been successful in its mission.
“I think it’s been received very well,” Duke said. “I’ve gotten an enormous amount of response from readers who have made suggestions but also in large part embraced it.”
According to Lowery, low subscription rates and competition from The Cincinnati Enquirer made the Post’s circulation rates decrease in the past decade.
He said in September 2007 The Cincinnati Post and The Kentucky Post had a combined circulation of 25,000. He estimated only 10,000 of it came from Cincinnati.
Lowery said that he sees readers of the Post now going to The Cincinnati Enquirer for their news.
With so many media alternatives and decreased circulation rates, the Post felt it would be a struggle to remain in business, according to Rich Boehne, chief operating officer for Scripps.
“After careful analysis and weighing several alternatives … it’s apparent to us that it would not be feasible to continue publishing the newspapers after the end of the joint operating agreement,” said Boehne, according to an article in the Post’s final edition by Lew Moores, a Post contributor.
According to Sacha Bellman, visiting instructor at Miami and former reporter for the Post, the city has lost an important paper with rich history.
“The Post always covered a lot of human interest stories and pieces that were very unique to the community,” she said. “That is something I am going to miss.”
The paper, which was in a joint-operating agreement between the Enquirer and Gannett Co. ran its final issue with the standard mark for the end of a press release or corporate document printed across its front, -30-.
Miami journalism professor Joe Sampson believes that the closing is a loss to the city of Cincinnati, especially now since there is just one major voice left for Cincinnati newspapers, The Enquirer.
“The fear a lot of people have is that with one newspaper, there is just one voice,” he said. “Whether one likes that voice or not, it is just one voice, and that is their only option when they go to pick up a newspaper.”
Afternoon newspapers like the Post are in a decline, Sampson said. He attributed this to the shift from blue collar jobs in most cities to white collar jobs. Bellman echoed this statement.
She said that her husband, who is an engineer, enjoyed reading the Post because it would be delivered fairly early in the afternoon, shortly after he got home from work around 2 p.m. each afternoon. Bellman said that the closing of a major newspaper like the Post is a loss to any city and results in a silenced voice.
“It’s a wake-up call to all newspapers when a newspaper shuts down,” Bellman said. “We never knew how long the Post would stay in existence, but even so the spirit was never lost in the newsroom, even with the looming fate of the paper. This is what Cincinnatians and Northern Kentuckians will miss.”