Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Seattle P-I to cease publication of print edition tomorrow, will continue online

Tomorrow, March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day 2009, Seattle's oldest newspaper, the Post-Intelligencer - which has been continuously published for one hundred and forty six years - will hit newsstands, porches, and driveways one last time.

Hearst Corporation, the paper's owner, made the announcement this morning, adding that the Seattle P-I will continue on in digital form.

Publisher Roger Oglesby, speaking to staff in the newsroom this morning, said:
This is a hard day for all of us. We were fortunate to be part of a great newspaper with a great tradition, and we've been blessed to be part of a wonderful group of talented people. We all hate to see that end.

But we knew it was coming. Hearst fought for years to keep this place going, but time and these rotten economic conditions finally caught up with us.

But there's another part to the story, and I'm not going to let you forget it. It's the part that has to do with what will live on and who's responsible for it. Tomorrow, will be reborn, outside the JOA. It will continue, and it will thrive, and it will be a strong and vital voice of this city for years to come.

Some of you will part of that ongoing effort, and you have an exciting road ahead of you. But we should all remember that everybody at this paper helped to build and the foundation on which its future will rest. Every one of you, everyone at this paper, should take pride in that. I will, and you should, too.

As for the paper, tonight will be the final run. So let's do it right. This is a great newspaper and has been for a long time. Let's show the world it still is. Let's show them what we can do, one more time.
Most of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's staff will lose their jobs as the P-I newsroom is pared back, Hearst acknowledged. Several of the P-I's best political writers have already retired or left for other jobs, including Neil Modie and Chris McGann. However, the P-I's senior political columnist, Joel Connelly, is staying with the P-I, as is cartoonist David Horsey and sports columnist Art Thiel.

There will be many changes:
The site won't have specific reporters, editors or producers -- all staff are expected to write, edit, take photos, shoot video and produce multimedia, according to a statement from Michelle Nicolosi, who will lead the site as executive producer.

Readers should also expect an operation that depends almost as much on its own staff for content as on guest contributors and the employees of other news entities. There will be links to stories on competing Web sites. And prominent citizens will write guest columns.
At least the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will live on.

Tomorrow will be a very sad day for the Seattle. The P-I is one of the Emerald City's oldest institutions. As of tomorrow, it will no longer be a newspaper.

We at the Northwest Progressive Institute are saddened by this development. We had hoped that a buyer could be found, but alas, it was not to be. What really distresses us is not so much the loss of the P-I's printed edition, although that hurts, but the dismantling of the P-I's newsroom.

Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen seems to think the end of the Joint Operating Agreement will benefit him. He's wrong. His Seattle Times Company is in deep, deep trouble. McClatchy, which owns a 49.5% stake in the company, recently divulged that it believes that stake is worthless.

The Times will be the only daily left, yes, but the disappearance of the P-I printed edition will not help Frank Blethen's company, which still clings to a business model that is dying. Note that I used the phrase business model. Print, as a medium, is far from dead, despite what some peddlers of electronic reading devices say. But the newspaper industry's business model, which relies on significant advertising revenue to support a big newsroom, hasn't much longer to live.

The Seattle Times doesn't seem to have plans in place to adapt and switch over to a new business model. Unless the Blethens can figure out such a plan, their flagship newspaper will likely meet its own end - and it will be sooner rather than later.


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