Scripps to end 96-year-old newswire, refocus

November 13, 2013
A newspaper vendor waits for customers at his stand in an underground rail station October 26, 2009 in San Francisco, California

E.W. Scripps is ending its newswire launched in 1917 and will refocus on new media platforms, underscoring the troubles facing the newspaper industry.

The Scripps-Howard News Service, which was a key syndicator of newspaper articles, cartoons and other content to the industry, will shut down by the end of the year, according to a statement Tuesday.

An agreement with McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT) will allow that newspaper group to take on the Scripps clients and contributors to Scripps Howard News Service starting in January, the statement said.

Scripps will refocus on a service called DecodeDC, a website and podcast service that covers US politics and which began as a crowdfunded project.

"At a time when national political affairs are having an immediate and profound impact on communities across the country, Scripps has decided to enhance its investigative reporting in the nation's capital and expand the reach and resources of political reporting brand DecodeDC, which it has acquired," the Scripps statement said.

"As part of the plan, the Scripps DC bureau, which for many years served newspapers exclusively, will be reconfigured to be a leading investigative storyteller on all the Scripps-owned media platforms—television, digital and print."

Ellen Weiss, chief of the Scripps Washington bureau, said the group wants to be "a content-focused organization, with a full commitment to investigative reporting and national politics," and will end the role of "being a packager and distributor of content from other news organizations."

Scripps is cutting seven jobs from its newswire but adding 10 positions for DecodeDC, which was launched by former National Public Radio reporter Andrea Seabrook with $100,000 she raised on Kickstarter.

"DecodeDC focuses on Washington's dysfunction, corruption, and negligence of the issues that affect American citizens every day," said Weiss. "The purpose is to educate and engage people in the search for solutions."

The reorganization puts an end to a begun in World War I. It was known for World War II coverage from roving correspondent Ernie Pyle.

Scripps owns 19 local television stations and daily newspapers in 13 markets across the United States.

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