Seattle Post-Intelligencer on the block (updated)

Another venerable newspaper appears about ready to shut its doors. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has been given 60 days by its owner, The Hearst Corporation, to be sold. Otherwise, the paper will shut down and exist as an on-line entity only:

If it does become an Internet-only operation, the P-I, as the paper is known locally, would have a "greatly reduced staff," Hearst said in a statement. Hearst is a major media company that also owns TV stations, other newspapers and magazines including Cosmopolitan.

"In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form" once the 60 days are up, Hearst said. Steve Swartz, the head of Hearst's newspaper division, broke the news to employees in a meeting Friday.

Seattle is one of two major cities on the verge of losing its second daily newspaper as the industry tries to pull out of a tailspin brought on by falling circulation and advertising revenue. Denver's Rocky Mountain News recently put itself up for sale in the face of steep losses and could close if a buyer isn't found soon.

The Seattle PI is the oldest newspaper in the city. And it appears that this recession may indeed bring the era of the printed newspaper close to an end - not unless news consumers would be ready to pony up and pay $2 a day for something they can easily find online for free.

The free market can be a fair but heartless master at times. Those of us who grew up reading newspapers every day, reveling in the words of the great columnists and engaging in debates over the great issues illuminated on their pages, will shed a tear for a lost tradition. But how the newspaper industry has devolved into its current celebrity oriented, blatantly biased manifestation will probably be written on its tombstone as the last epitaph of a business that, like the dinosaurs, were completely blind to its destruction.

In the end, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Update -- Thomas Lifson adds:

The best thing about the P-I is its building on Elliott St. in Seattle. Actually, not the building itself, so much as the neon-decorated globe above it.


Seattle P-I Building

Here's a close-up of the sign, which also shows the matching color of the glazing:

P-I globe sign

This sign reminds us of the day when newspapers were the definitive source of news, and a powerful newspaper could move the world. After all Hearst, the owner of the P-I, was as much responsible to the Spanish-American War as anyone.

I have little doubt that preservationists in Seattle will fight to preserve this sign, much as have their Boston counterparts preserved the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square.

Good luck to the P-I in trying to make it as a net-only publication. I can tell them that ad rates for websites are a tiny fraction of what newspapers have been accustomed to getting.
Another venerable newspaper appears about ready to shut its doors. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has been given 60 days by its owner, The Hearst Corporation, to be sold. Otherwise, the paper will shut down and exist as an on-line entity only:

If it does become an Internet-only operation, the P-I, as the paper is known locally, would have a "greatly reduced staff," Hearst said in a statement. Hearst is a major media company that also owns TV stations, other newspapers and magazines including Cosmopolitan.

"In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form" once the 60 days are up, Hearst said. Steve Swartz, the head of Hearst's newspaper division, broke the news to employees in a meeting Friday.

Seattle is one of two major cities on the verge of losing its second daily newspaper as the industry tries to pull out of a tailspin brought on by falling circulation and advertising revenue. Denver's Rocky Mountain News recently put itself up for sale in the face of steep losses and could close if a buyer isn't found soon.

The Seattle PI is the oldest newspaper in the city. And it appears that this recession may indeed bring the era of the printed newspaper close to an end - not unless news consumers would be ready to pony up and pay $2 a day for something they can easily find online for free.

The free market can be a fair but heartless master at times. Those of us who grew up reading newspapers every day, reveling in the words of the great columnists and engaging in debates over the great issues illuminated on their pages, will shed a tear for a lost tradition. But how the newspaper industry has devolved into its current celebrity oriented, blatantly biased manifestation will probably be written on its tombstone as the last epitaph of a business that, like the dinosaurs, were completely blind to its destruction.

In the end, they have no one to blame but themselves.

Update -- Thomas Lifson adds:

The best thing about the P-I is its building on Elliott St. in Seattle. Actually, not the building itself, so much as the neon-decorated globe above it.


Seattle P-I Building

Here's a close-up of the sign, which also shows the matching color of the glazing:

P-I globe sign

This sign reminds us of the day when newspapers were the definitive source of news, and a powerful newspaper could move the world. After all Hearst, the owner of the P-I, was as much responsible to the Spanish-American War as anyone.

I have little doubt that preservationists in Seattle will fight to preserve this sign, much as have their Boston counterparts preserved the Citgo sign in Kenmore Square.

Good luck to the P-I in trying to make it as a net-only publication. I can tell them that ad rates for websites are a tiny fraction of what newspapers have been accustomed to getting.