Saturday, January 10, 2009

RIP Seattle Post-Intelligencer (1863-2009)

From a long-time Seattle resident:

RIP Seattle Post-Intelligencer (1863-2009)
by Anonymous

Despite the years of circulation losses, the Joint Operating Agreement with the Seattle Times, the successive rounds of layoffs and all the hand-wringing an over-involved community could muster, it was a shock to the city to hear that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is about to be put to sleep. The Hearst Corporation, which owns it, announced yesterday that they were putting the paper up for sale for sixty days. Hearst does not expect to sell it, but is merely undertaking a formality which the JOA process requires before they can pull the plug. The last number published will probably be around April.

It is very sad for a literate community like Seattle to see a daily newspaper a quarter-century older than the state fold. This is true despite the fact that the P-I has for many years been a thin, miserable excuse for a newspaper. By far the brightest light left on the huge, iconic P-I globe is Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist David Horsey. Most of the other journalists remaining are those who could not find other jobs or refused to relocate to other cities.

Hearst, which bought the P-I in 1921, used its voice about as irresponsibly as it has its other regional dialects. In 1936 the P-I battered the Newspaper Guild into submission, using its own pages to tar its employees. In 1942 it beat a jingoistic tattoo to march the large and loyal Japanese-American community off to internment camps. In the '60's and '70's it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Dan Evans' and Slade Gorton's Republican state machine; its support for the GOP candidates was crucial to their success because on local issues and national elections the P-I was considered more liberal than the cross-town rival Seattle Times.

So now Seattle, in which more books are bought per capita than all but a handful of American cities, will have only one newspaper. Maybe none- the Times has been so badly managed over the past thirty years that its financial position is now tenuous. Any debate over the P-I's future in recent years would soon hear a counterpoint of speculation that the Times might fall first. Now having the JOA off its back and the P-I gone may not be enough to save the Times, which has lost 20% of its circulation in one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. Microsoft, Adobe, RealNetworks and the other high-tech empires in the Seattle area are teeming with young, affluent employees who get their news online.

Hearst, at the end, once more demonstrated the class that has made it what it is today. Instead of coming to Seattle and giving its longtime employees the news in person, Hearst management sent them an email.

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