A community newspaper based in Columbia City that recently tried to extend its reach to the North End has published its final issue. The Seattle Sun &...

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A community newspaper based in Columbia City that recently tried to extend its reach to the North End has published its final issue.

The Seattle Sun & Star, a spunky biweekly launched three years ago as the South Seattle Star, closed for financial reasons, Publisher Wallis Bolz said yesterday.

“Despite our lovely and ongoing growth in sales, readership and recognition, this little baby of ours couldn’t sustain itself at the level to which all of us had become accustomed — good journalism costs money, and we ran out of it,” Bolz wrote in an e-mail to friends and supporters. “Faced with a choice of gutting the newspaper or closing the doors, we closed the doors.”

The Star’s swagger flew in the face of the traditionally folksy community-journalism model. Rather than fashioning itself as a booster for the neighborhoods it served, it favored more discerning stories.

“I’ll never understand why a neighborhood newspaper should be any different than a daily newspaper,” Bolz said in a Seattle Times interview last summer. “If people don’t want to read about the messy side of a neighborhood, then they don’t have to pick up our newspaper.”

In the South End, the Star competed head-to-head with the Beacon Hill News & South District Journal, which has been published since 1924. Bolz purchased the Seattle Sun, a North Seattle monthly, last September, and merged the two free newspapers in May under the nameplate Seattle Sun & Star.

“The Star would have been dead sooner had it not been for the Sun,” Bolz said. “People don’t want to hear it, but Central and Southeast Seattle cannot support its own newspaper.”

The Star distributed about 12,000 copies, but the combined paper’s circulation was about 30,000.

Bolz informed her staff in mid-June that the paper would close. The Sun & Star, which published its final issue July 1, had four full-time employees, as well as a crew of freelance writers and independent contractors.

“I’m proud of the work we did,” Bolz said. “We published a great newspaper and showed Seattle that people are interested in reading more than just stories about the monorail and skateboard parks.”

Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or seskenazi@seattletimes.com