I didn’t grow up in, nor have I ever lived in Seattle. However, I did live close enough that I found myself in the city on occasion over the years, and I always knew I could grab a Seattle Weekly whenever I had time to kill or wanted some insight into the local culture.
In other towns, similar small, independent publications have always leant a peek into the heart of the community. Sure, there are ads, the occasional fluff article and obscure opinion pieces, but most importantly, there are true gems; great reviews of local events and businesses, upcoming events, cool facts, and sometimes even the highlights of the local police blotter.
These publications translate the pulse of the community into words, and with the Seattle Weekly cutting staff and moving to solely online, it scares me to think that these publications are going the way of the dinosaur.
With the Seattle Weekly falling out of print in Mar. 2019, I feel a twinge of sadness.
I have a great nostalgic memory of reading the Seattle Weekly while drinking coffee in various places all over the city, and even discovered some fantastic shows from reading it. But the truth is, when I get right down to it, I won’t actually miss it. Not really.
The last few instances I was killing time in a spot where I would have browsed the Weekly, I read something on my smartphone instead. It is just so customized and too easy. I don’t have to look at ads, worry about wasting paper or about what I’m going to do with the paper when I’m done with it, and I can choose exactly what I want to read about.
This reality is unfortunate though. Had I only read articles on my phone the last few years, I never would have ended up, last minute, at a Reel Big Fish concert. I never would have eaten the worst creole food of my life that led to having a blast with my friends because at least the drinks there were good.
This is the truth of our times tough. Remember that song, “Video Killed the Radio Star”? That was referencing something that happened 50 years ago, and now in a similar fashion, the smartphone is killing print media.
I can remember the last time I subscribed to a magazine. It was only a few years ago, and my girlfriend at the time had bought me a subscription to Esquire. One morning I was sitting on my porch watching the sun come up, mug of coffee in my hand and magazine spread in my lap, and I wanted to get a closer look at a picture of a car in one of the articles. I reached down, put two fingers where I was looking on the page, and slowly swiped my fingers apart trying to get a better look. No, I wasn’t able to zoom-in on a paper picture. I had a little laugh at myself and thought for a second. I pulled out my phone, found the same article online and I was able to successfully zoom in on the online picture.
The Seattle Weekly will continue as an online publication, but the latest round of layoffs and reductions leaves it utterly gutted. Down from its peak of employing more than 25 editors and writers, the Seattle Weekly will now have two employees.
Will it still capture the feel of the city? Call me a cynic, but I’m skeptical.