RealClearPolitics Media Watch

« The Sorry State of the Media | Media Watch Home Page | P-I Gone, Who and What Next? »

Seattle P-I, R.I.P.

After allowing the employees of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to twist in the wind for the better part of a month, the parent Hearst Corporation finally put the paper out of its misery. Tuesday's edition will be the P-I's last in print, ending a 146-year run.

Hearst will maintain a skeletal web site run by some of the P-I staffers, though the vast majority of the 167 employees will lose their jobs. The P-I becomes the second major U.S. metro daily to shutter in as many months, following the Rocky Mountain News' demise in February.

The P-I's former JOA partner Seattle Times may stand to benefit, but the impact may be limited. The Times, owned by the Blethen family, is having its own financial crisis. Just last month, the paper lobbied the Washington state legislature to grant tax relief. From Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen in a statement:

Though The Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I have been fiercely competitive, we find no joy in the loss of any journalistic voice. Today's announcement is an acknowledgement that in the current economy it is a struggle for even a single newspaper to be profitable and impossible for multiple papers in a single market.

With the P-I closing, Hearst is moving ahead in its effort to keep the flagship San Francisco Chronicle operating. By a vote of 333-33, the paper's guild ratified a new agreement with management on Saturday, allowing a number of concessions. Teamsters, representing the paper's pressmen and truck drivers, is now the last union that must ratify the new proposal.

Carl Hall, the guild's lead negotiator, said of the agreement: "This is the start of the real battle. We have to find a solution, a real solution, to save what we really care about here - quality journalism and qualify jobs."