ON DEATHWATCH IN SEATTLE – The evidence continues to mount that today (Tues., March 10) may be the last day in the print life of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. This is, after all, the deadline that parent company Hearst set for a buyer everyone knew would never come. P-I employees, who were offered a “last” visit to the newspaper’s iconic globe on Monday, are speculating that Tuesday will be spent producing the paper’s final edition and that the new, online-only P-I would be launched on Thursday.
There isn’t a whole lot to add that hasn’t already been said. Both NPR-affiliate radio stations, KPLU and KUOW are paying last respects with three-part series on the P-I, its history and impact on Seattle. Meanwhile, a day after a former Seattle Times staffer ranted about the lack of attention shown by the P-I’s chief rival, the Times finally weighed in with a straight news story.
The lack of sentimentality is not surprising. The Times actually cast an eye toward the P-I’s imminent demise in the newspapers’ shared Sunday editions (produced by the Times, per the joint operating agreement (JOA) between the two) by promoting its week’s content on every section cover. The effort, of course, was aimed at capturing P-I subscribers once their newspaper stopped publishing.
(It’s interesting to note that the eagle is part of The Seattle Times logo; I strongly suggest it be replaced with a vulture).
Of course, once the P-I print edition ceases to exist, the Times immediately replaces it on the newspaper deathwatch list. The Times is hemorrhaging money and burdened by debt incurred by its purchase of newspapers in Maine and its costly court battle with Hearst in an attempt to escape the JOA. The Times also has allowed many of its best writers to leave via buyouts, continued a stodgy approach heavy on “project stories” that are not well-read and don’t resonate with younger readers, and is losing the stimulus of competition from a newspaper that was decidedly more plucky than it.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I worked at the Times for 17 years, then left 10 years ago for a series of Internet ventures).
It’s also not entirely surprising that Seattle could fall so quickly from one of the country’s few two-newspaper cities to one of its first no-newspaper cities. It is, after all, one of the most wired cities in the U.S., the home of Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks. I mention Starbucks because it is the place one gets wired (on caffeine) and wireless (Internet connections, that is).
Question is: Once the domino tumbles in Seattle, how quickly will others then fall?