Seattle PI Faces Chopping Block

The financial crisis facing many communities across America strikes home again. The Hearst Corporation today confirmed yesterday’s rumor that the Seattle Post Intelligencer is on its way to a quick grave. Basically by saying they will give 60 days time for someone to step forward and buy it means they are giving, in this economy, 60 days notice that the end is coming.

You can watch Steve Schwartz, the President of Hearst’s Corporation Newspaper Division break the news at noon to the PI’s newsroom. here as well as read the PI’s news article and Schwartz’s press release.

In a rather backhanded slap at the PI, despite Schwartz’s lavish praise for the paper and its reporters and its history, Schwartz refused to answer any questions after his statement.

Schwartz said that 60 days signaled the end of the print edition but left the door open for the continuation of an on-line edition with a drastically reduced staff. But even that is in doubt because if that economic model worked you would argue why isn’t it working now.

The loss to the community will be great if no buyer emerges. Two newspapers have been a luxury for Seattle but the clock started ticking for one to disappear when a few years back the Seattle Times shifted to a morning edition like the Seattle PI, putting them in direct competition with each other.

The Seattle PI has generally been viewed as the more progressive or liberal of the two papers and its loss would mean a more conservative newspaper would be the only print edition.

The Weekly Stranger has become more standard fare for raising issues with an alternative viewpoint. When the Seattle Weekly was sold and its activist staff let go, it quickly degenerated to a non entity is covering news and raising questions and doing any kind of real investigative reporting.

The Seattle PI over the years has had good investigative reporting and editorial writers who looked at issues with a critical eye. David Horsey and his political cartoons have been a Seattle staple for as long as I can remember. I first met Horsey when he was at the UW when I was a graduate student.

Joel Connelly, Neil Modie (recently retired) and Eric Nalder among others have been PI fixtures on Seattle’s waterfront for years. A landslide change will cover Seattle’s political landscape if the end is truly here. Maybe we can ask Obama to include newspapers like the PI in his economic stimulus package, as worthy as any road or bridge that we could build in terms of community impact.

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