Presses stopped

The Kansan City Kansan – the only paper covering Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas – is turning off its presses and going online.

I would say this is a forward-thinking act of innovation, except it comes from link-hating Gatehouse, whose stock is stuck at $0.04 and so it could be an act of desperation; I don’t know which. This is a paper that earlier sold its building, shifted its printing, and cut back from daily to twice-weekly in print. from the Kansas City Star story:

General Manager Drew Savage said in an interview that switching to an online publication would save on overhead and allow for more investment in electronic media. In addition to eliminating the print publication, Savage said the paper would cut some of its staff of eight, but he declined to say how many employees would lose their jobs.

Despite those cuts, Savage said the Kansan would continue to thrive. Rather than see the move as the death of a newspaper, Savage touted it as the birth of a new medium.

“We thought maybe this is a trend that could be really viable,” he said. “It’s the wave of the future. … We’ll be launching a different platform. We’ll have a lot more content than we have ever had.” . . . .

After the switch [from daily], the Kansan’s online traffic increased, Savage said. Although he declined to offer circulation numbers for the paper, Savage said readership is about 10 times greater online than it is for the print edition. Those numbers suggest to him that the Kansan’s online advertising rates will probably remain similar to the print publication’s and will allow the publication to explore new online features.

“This is not going to be a newspaper turned into an online product,” he said. “It’s going to have a completely different look.”

Dare I link directly to and quote from the Kansan’s own announcement? Oh, I’ll live dangerously:

Founded on Jan. 31, 1921, by U.S. Sen. Arthur Capper, the Kansan filled a need in a community devoid of a major daily newspaper. The Kansan continued to be the only daily newspaper in Wyandotte County until mid-2008, when its publication schedule was cut back to twice-weekly.

Bit by bit, with bigger and bigger papers, we’ll see more and more of this in 2009.