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A tale of two cities (Er, one city, two newspapers)

Will the next daily newspaper to fold be another one that shares its city with a competitor?

You know that old Western movie quote, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us?” Well, it seems that the newspaper industry is experiencing the proverbial gunslinging shooutout.

Earlier this week, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer announced that it would cease print production and go online-only. Late last month, the Rocky Mountain News published its last paper. Fortunately, the Mile High City and the Emerald City still have the Denver Post and the Seattle Times, respectively.

This all got me wondering who would be the next to go. We’ve all heard that daily newspapers are struggling – but who will stay afloat? I took a look at all daily newspapers in the U.S. and Canada with a circulation of over 100,000 (I did not include the free commuter dailies like Chicago’s RedEye or the now-defunct BostonNow and Baltimore Examiner). Here are the three 100K-and-up dailies that have folded in the past year:

  1. New York Sun (R.I.P. September 2008)
  2. Rocky Mountain News (R.I.P. February 2009)
  3. Seattle Post-Intelligencer (R.I.P. March 2009) 

Notice anything? That’s right – these three papers share their market with another major daily newspaper. Could this by our crystal ball to predict which papers may fold next? Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it certainly is a risk factor for papers who do share a market.

What other cities in North America have two or more daily newspapers with a circulation of over 100K? It’s not a long list, so if you’re looking to do some off-track betting, your chances are pretty good for at least one of the papers at each of the cities below:

  1. New York City (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Daily News, Newsday)
  2. Chicago (Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune)
  3. Detroit (Detroit Free Press, Detroit News)
  4. Boston (Boston Globe, Boston Herald)
  5. Philadelphia (Philadelphia Daily News, Philadelphia Inquirer) NOTE: The Daily News recently became an edition of the the Inquirer, but still maintains a seperate staff and is branded as the Daily News. Could this be a template of how two papers can work together in the same city??
  6. Toronto (Globe & Mail, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post)
  7. Vancouver (Province, Vancouver Sun)

We haven’t seen the layoffs and buyouts at Canadian newspapers that we have seen with newspapers in the U.S., so Toronto and Vancouver may be the safe ones on this list.

What do you think? Have we seen the worst or will more papers continue to fold? If so, who’s next on this list? What impact will it have on these cities if they become one-paper cities?

About Heidi Sullivan

One of PRWeek’s 40 under 40 in 2012, Heidi Sullivan is Senior Vice President of Digital Content for Cision and a self-proclaimed social media metrics nerd. She leads the company’s digital and broadcast content teams, the global research team for Cision’s media database, Cision’s social media community team and the company’s content marketing strategy. You can find her on Twitter @hksully.

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