ooo.jpg It's a bad news week when a TV report is first to say you're out of your newspaper job - and worse, when your own


A Different P-I

ooo.jpgIt's a bad news week when a TV report is first to say you're out of your newspaper job - and worse, when your own editor refuses to comment. Thus it doesn't look good for the future of the P-I. Just a few weeks ago the two Daves - editors from the P-I (David McCumber) and Times (David Boardman) - were discussing such as fate.

Neither editor thinks much of Seattle's joint operating agreement,

which financially ties the P-I and Times, and both think it's as doomed

as newspaper classifieds. (The Times once drew 50 percent of its

revenues from classifieds, says Boardman, and has lost 80 percent of

that income, mostly to the web. "You take 40 percent out of any

business, that's a lot of revenue.") Likewise doomed is one of

the two Seattle dailies in today's form. Similar newspapers with

similar coverage and distribution footprints? "It just can't go on,"

says Boardman. If two are to survive, one would have to become very

different from the other.

Yes, well disappearing is different, but... Five years ago, Dick Clever wrote about this possibility. It really seemed it would never come to pass:

It can be argued that Seattle is no better able to support two dailies

than any other city that has seen all but one newspaper fall to

economic reality. But each newspaper that died took some piece of the

soul of the city it served to the grave. It's too early to mourn the P-I, but it's not too early to reflect on what Seattle loses if it goes.

It's still too early...or is it too late?

Saturday Addendum:

Is the P-I dead or not? Hearst announced yesterday it was putting the property on the market, yet expects no buyers. More importantly, the deep-pockets corporation (it paid $500 million cash for its new NY headquarters) might not sell the P-I after all, ending only the print edition and converting it to a digital newspaper.

It blew the chance in recent years to innovate, and convert to a daring newsprint tab. However, its web edition is considerably more popular and way more cheaper to produce than the dead-tree edition. 

The staff would be at least halved if it was online only, and as the Times notes, it's unclear if a cyberspace P-I delivered by Hearst or a new owner could continue to reap Times advertising revenue under the Joint Operating Agreement. But there'd still be a "lefty rag" to digitally kick around. Hear hear.

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