After more than 42 years, Seattle Weekly will print its final edition Feb. 27.
The paper was founded in 1976 by local journalism legend David Brewster. Early in its life, Seattle Weekly hit the sweet spot. The paper celebrated Seattle at a time when Seattle was still an underappreciated gem. It was written and edited by educated urban professionals who understood the kind of arts, politics, and commentary that would engage other urban professionals. As an early player in a market with a lot of upside, Seattle Weekly was able to achieve a big footprint in the market with both the newspaper and its guidebooks.
A series of ownership changes — including Village Voice Media and Voice Media Group — left Seattle Weekly on shaky financial footing by the time Sound Publishing acquired it in 2013. Under Sound Publishing, Seattle Weekly tried to continue an emphasis on features and lifestyle topics that would appeal to younger readers, but this, unfortunately, came right at a time when “younger” readers were abandoning print.
In 2017, Sound Publishing relaunched Seattle Weekly as more of a community paper, but the relaunch did not achieve that all-important clear sense of purpose. A successful newspaper needs a clear sense of purpose that answers the questions: Who are we trying to engage? Where do we want to be positioned in the market? What are the paper’s unique offerings?
At this point, we are unable to identify a promising target audience. And we are facing significant costs, including newsprint, distribution, and escalating wage costs.
Amid the changing nature of Seattle, it remains difficult to define a “clear sense of purpose” that would attract new readers, or even lure non-print consumers back to a printed product.
The passion and ambition necessary to invest in a reinvention of Seattle Weekly is more likely to come from an outside buyer. In the meantime, Seattle Weekly will move forward as a web-only product featuring news from Sound Publishing’s Bothell-Kenmore Reporters across the region and state.
Thank you to all the readers, advertisers, and journalists who have shared this journey with us.
Sound Publishing, Inc.