September 28, 2016

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review announced this morning that it will discontinue its print edition Nov. 30 and become a digital-only publication.

That leaves the larger Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the only daily print newspaper in town.

The company will lay off 106 full and part-time staff. The Tribune’s parent company had already offered more than 400 buyouts as it announced the closing or sale of a number of weeklies and small dailies.

The announcement underscores just how rare it has become for two competing newspapers to stay in business in the same city.

The Tribune-Review, with a right-leaning tilt in its editorials, had lasted this long only because its late owner Richard Mellon Scaife poured a good portion of his fortune into propping it up.

After Scaife’s death in 2014, several of his heirs sued the estate’s trust, claiming that with subsidies though the years, Scaife had squandered $300 million on the paper.

Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Times bought and then folded the rival Tampa Tribune, fulfilling subscriptions and ad contract and picking up a dozen or so news staffers.

There was no indication in the announcement that the Tribune-Review would sell its lists to the Post-Gazette. In fact it will continue to publish print editions in two suburbs as well as the digital version of the Tribune-Review.

When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer folded in 2009, it continued publishing digitally with a much reduced staff, but the competing Seattle Times has grown more dominant.

This month also marked the launch of The Incline, a digital only Pittsburgh site backed by Jim Brady’s Spirited Media, which also publishes Billy Penn in Philadelphia.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
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