News

Last goodbye for print P-I

For the first time in nearly 120 years, Seattle is home to just one major daily print newspaper.

Although retaining an online presence at seattlepi.com, the Post-Intelligencer's final print edition hit newsstands Tuesday morning while The Seattle Times, Everett Herald, Tri-Cities Herald, Yakima Herald-Republic, Tacoma News-Tribune and the Post-Intelligencer itself mourned the loss with front page stories.

The loss is felt by readers in Sequim. In a town one would be hard-pressed to call a suburb of Seattle, the P-I still had a niche.

Lili White, a Sequim resident for 12 years, said she liked to read the Post-Intelligencer because the content tended to lean more to her liberal views.

"I feel that the reporting is more to our leaning, to the left," she said.

"I'm devastated if any paper goes down. Where are we going to get our news? I wish that people would have gotten together and buy stock in it or something to keep (it going)."

A dedicated reader of papers from Munich, Germany, to Los Angeles, Calif., White said she'll likely look toward the New York Times for her national news before taking the Seattle Times.

Even though she said she's not comfortable with some of the newer ways of receiving news, such as blogs or Twitter, White said she'll look to more Internet-based news for getting her regional news.

"Because I am so over-

conscious of wasting paper, I think having the information online is good enough for me," she said,

Bob Pasco, a Sequim resident since 1976, is a subscriber to the Seattle Times/P-I Sunday edition.

"I prefer the paper in my hand," he said.

"For any paper to put that much content on paper and ship it out, that's pretty expensive."

Pasco said he gets much of his national news online at The Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).

That seems to be the trend for most news readers, according to a 2008 study by the Pew Research Center.

The study found that, for the first time, more people get national and international news from the Internet (40 percent) than from newspapers (35 percent), a jarring reversal from 2001 when readers looked to newspapers much more than online (45 percent to 13).

Still, reader White said she likes holding a newspaper in her hand while she learns about the world.

"There's nothing like sitting on Sunday morning with (the paper), your coffee and the crossword," White said. "I guess it's a cultural thing."

The Post-Intelligencer boasted a circulation of 117,000 weekday readers and another 420,000 on Sundays with combined P-I/Seattle Times editions.

The Hearst Corporation, the P-I's owner, announced on Jan. 9 that it wanted to sell the daily newspaper, saying that if a buyer wasn't found the Post-Intelligencer either would go exclusively online or shut down completely.

Only 20 news reporters and Web producers are staying with seattlepi.com, plus another 20 newly hired advertising sales staff - down from a 150-person newsroom.

Some familiar columnists and reporters remain, including columnist Joel Connelly and cartoonist David Horsey. Sports columnists Art Thiel and Jim Moore will freelance two pieces a week.

"Tonight we'll be putting the paper to bed for the last time," newspaper editor and publisher Roger Oglesby told his newsroom staff Monday morning. "But the bloodline will live on."

The Post-Intelligencer preceded the now larger Times with its first publication in August 1863 with the Seattle Gazette, one that turned into The Weekly Intelligencer four years later. That paper went to a daily edition in 1876 and, in 1881, merged with competitor The Post to become the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The P-I lasted 128 years, survived more than 15 owners and a fire that engulfed much of Seattle in 1889.

Since 1983, the Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times have shared advertising, production, marketing and circulation costs while maintaining separate news and editorial departments in a joint operating agreement.

But the P-I began shedding all profits in the early 1980s, got a boost with joining the Times, and then began losing profits again in 2000. The P-I finally succumbed in early 2009. The print and online Seattle Post-Intelligencer lost $14 million last year, according to the paper's own sources.

In a news release, Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr. said the remaining P-I news staff would turn solely to online efforts. Subscriptions to the paper P-I are transferred to the Seattle Times subscriptions automatically.

"Our goal now is to turn

seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region," Bennack Jr. said.

Jay Rosen, a professor of journalism at New York University, said that Hearst's moves in Seattle will be watched closely by other large metropolitan newspaper owners, particularly with the recent demise of several metro dailies, most notably Denver's The Rocky Mountain News in February.

"For large metropolitan dailies, what they are doing right now is not sustainable," Rosen told Post-Intelligencer reporter Joseph Tartakoff. "They don't see how they're going to continue in anything but a downward spiral."

Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., Sen. Patty Murray, D-Freeland, told the U.S. Senate:

"Newspapers aren't just another business. And if more close - and there's nothing to replace them - our democracy will be weaker as a result.

"For generations, newspaper reporters have been the ones who have done the digging, sat through the meetings and

broken the hard stories.

"What's most important to me is that, if the media environment is really changing, someone will be there to step in and do the work newspapers do for our communities now."



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.





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