Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hearst Corporation puts the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale

Uh oh:
The Seattle P-I newspaper is being put up for sale. Steve Swartz, president of Hearst Newspaper Division, told the newsroom that Hearst Corp. is starting a 60-day process to find a buyer. If a buyer is not found, Swartz said, Hearst will pursue other options. The options include moving to a digital-only operation with a greatly reduced staff, or completely shutting down operations. In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form, Swartz said.
Hearst says it is has absolutely no interest in shutting down the P-I so it can acquire the Times. Hearst says it wants to ditch the P-I because the newspaper is bleeding money... even though the P-I is published under a joint operating agreement with The Seattle Times Company.

It looks like 2009 will either see the end of the Seattle Post-Intelligncer under Hearst management...or the end of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as we know it.

This is very disappointing news... terrible news. The Seattle P-I is a civic treasure. Its value can't be measured in terms of money. Losing it would be devastating, especially at a time when we need more news coverage, not less.

There has been a rumor floating around, picked up on a few blogs like HorsesAss, that Hearst wants to offload the Seattle P-I so it can buy Belo Corporation (owner of KING5 TV). Belo has said this rumor is false. The Stranger has more.

UPDATE: We've posted Hearst's letter to employees. Editor & Publisher has more on what happened inside the P-I newsroom this afternoon:
P-I employees were silent as they listened to the announcement, which lasted about 10 minutes. Some of them shed tears. Others held up cell phones or voice recorders in press-conference fashion.

Editorial Cartoonist David Horsey was nearly speechless.

"This is awful, awful, awful," he said afterward. "I was just standing there looking around at all these people I love to work with. I don't want this to happen to me or them."

P-I online reporter and blogger Monica Guzman cried at her desk with her head in her hands. She had just sent a Twitter post to the Web, saying, "Please, let us be O.K."

"It doesn't feel real," she said. "You hear about the problems in the industry all over the country and you start to think, 'Well, nothing that bad has happened to us yet, so maybe it won't.' You know it's naïve. You know it's stupid. And then it happens."
Governor Gregoire had this to say:
I'm truly saddened to hear the news. The demise of any newspaper is a tragedy not only for its employees and their families but for a free society where all voices are heard.

I pray that a buyer is found and Seattle can remain one of the few two-newspaper cities in this country.
What else is there to add? This sucks!


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