The local news: Dead as dial phones and cassette tapes?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota's largest newspaper and America's 15th largest, is one step closer to biting the dust.

The paper has filed for Chapter 11 in a last-ditch effort to restructure $661 million in debts. This follows an announcement from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that if the 146-year-old paper doesn't find a buyer within two months, it will close for good or switch to a pared-down, online-only version. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is said to be losing $1 million a week.

It isn't just the little guys who are clinging to the cliff face with their fingernails. Last month, the Tribune Co., which puts out the main dailies in Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale and dozens of other cities, sought bankruptcy protection. Gannett Co., another big paper owner, sent home most of its employees for a week without pay. Now, many Americans are facing life without their local paper.