Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims react to the demise of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer print edition.

King County Executive Ron Sims said he’s concerned about the difficulties newspapers are facing not just in Seattle, but nationwide.

“I believe that we must have newspapers, we must have a free news media if we are going to preserve this country’s greatness. … Every person in the world who’s a despot gets rid of the newspapers. Every society that’s not free has government-controlled newspapers,” he said.

Sims, nominated to be deputy director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, said he hopes the online Post-Intelligencer will continue to cover local issues and institutions.

“It just seems so much a part of the culture here to have two papers. But I also realize the industry is changing and this is part of the changes.”

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said that even though the closure of the printed P-I has been expected for a couple of months, it was sad to lose a journalistic voice and one of the oldest businesses in Seattle.

Asked what he would miss most about the paper, he joked, “… Besides the editorial board?”

Nickels said he would miss the “important ritual” of holding the printed P-I in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. “The local newspaper brings a picture of our community that you don’t get anywhere else,” he said.