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Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale

The rumor began circulating yesterday after a local Seattle television station reported that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was going to be put up for sale and even closed down if no buyer steps up, today it now official. Steven Swartz, president of the Hearst Corp.’s newspaper division which owns the P.I. made the announcement to staff today. In essence – the paper is up for sale for 60 days and if no buyers, it closes, or moves to a web only publication with a greatly reduced staff.

The announcement that was posted on the P.I’s web site included a reaction by editorial cartoonist David Horsey.

“This is awful, awful, awful,” he said afterward. “I was just standing there looking around at all these people I love to work with. I don’t want this to happen to me or them.”

He said that he’s been watching the news about the newspaper troubles nationwide, but that doesn’t make it any easier to understand the business reasons behind the decision.

“You realize you’re part of a huge implosion of the newspaper industry,” he said.

Community Comments

#1 Jeff Darcy
January/9/2009
@ 5:21 pm

And meanwhile further down this page, below news of Patrick O’Conner having lost his Job, the AAEC complains about the editorial cartoons Newsweek runs.

#2 Abell Smith
January/9/2009
@ 5:31 pm

Utterly amazing to me that the P-I won’t be here anymore… not only as someone who has lived in Seattle most of my life, but also because my dad was a photographer there for 18 years…

One would hope, with the subsequent boost to the Times’ bottom line as the only paper left in town, the Blethens’ will be spending a little money to pick up some of the P-I’s talented people.

#3 Mike Peterson
January/9/2009
@ 7:01 pm

The Blethens are so deep in the red that elimination of the “competition” (and it hasn’t been much lately) will probably allow them to exhale and not much more. They lost a bundle by purchasing a chain of Maine newspapers because their grandfather used to spend his summers there or something equally silly. They’ve just sold it, but I’m sure they didn’t profit on the sale and probably were just glad to get out of Dodge.

The situation in Seattle, meanwhile, has been a disaster for several years. A sale of the PI would only prolong the agony.

#4 Corey Pandolph
January/9/2009
@ 7:12 pm

I say we all buy it and run nothing but comics on the first page. We’ll start a trend and save the newsprint in the process.

I have… 5… 26… carry the two…. I have $22.69.

I’m in.

Who’s with me, you bunch of pontificating jaded ninnies you.

#5 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
January/9/2009
@ 8:34 pm

The Great Depression caused the receivorship of the Seattle P-I, along with Hearst’s other journalistic holdings. It is doubtful that any of them ever turned much of a profit, but they provided a market for the newsprint from the companies timber holdings.
Citizen Hearst was not the paragon of virtue, but he was likely the most important early industry booster for cartoons in dailies. “Krazy Kat” probably would never have become the classic without W R Hearst’s support.
A quote of W R Hearst that may have some bearing on the current dynamic, “News is something somebody doesn’t want printed. All else is advertising”.

#6 Quint Nelson
January/9/2009
@ 8:35 pm

The first newspaper to die in 2009. Sadly, there will be more to come.

#7 puddyfudge
January/9/2009
@ 10:52 pm

Well, I think this settles it folks. The web won, newsprint lost. If you are a cartoonist you need to create your on intellectual property and get it up on the web. To think that a talent like David Horsey may not have a job because this newspaper can NOT turn a profit is just mind boggling. Sad.

#8 Mike Peterson
January/10/2009
@ 5:11 am

Actually, the soon-to-be-former Blethen holdings out in Maine ARE being bought by some local citizens, though not exactly a consortium of fake rockstars, errant doodlers and penniless hangers-on.

Still, if, two years from now, the rest of us are huddled up to our monitors reading webcomics while Corey and Wiley and Lincoln and Brooke are sitting in their Barcaloungers with their feet up, reading the funny papers in actual print, that’ll be why.

(No indication yet that the new community owners are comics fans. But they’re actually THERE in town where the guys can drop by and sweet talk them …)

#9 Wiley Miller
January/10/2009
@ 9:06 am

Actually, I have a Lane recliner, Mike. Barcaloungers are for the riffraff.

#10 Ted Rall
January/10/2009
@ 9:18 am

“If you are a cartoonist you need to create your on intellectual property and get it up on the web”

Are there any cartoonists who don’t have their cartoons on the web?

The Web isn’t a safe haven for intellectual property. It’s its engine of destruction.

#11 Wiley Miller
January/10/2009
@ 9:27 am

“Well, I think this settles it folks. The web won, newsprint lost.”

Yes, just look at all those reporters, columnists, wire desk editors, etc., etc., etc. making a living on the web! Woo-hoo! What a great victory!!!! The web RULES!!!!

And by the way, anonymous poster “puddyfudge”, read the rules for posting in this forum.

#12 Paul Fell
January/10/2009
@ 11:06 am

One wonders how this will play out for the AAEC convention that’s scheduled for Seattle over the 4th. of July weekend. We certainly can’t count on any financial support from the local papers, which has traditionally been a vital part of any AAEC convention in the past.

We just might have to our annual gathering in President Ted Rall’s backyard on Long Island… or Wiley’s place in Maine… or my yard in Lincoln, Nebraska. What’s sad is we’re just seeing the beginning of the meltdown.

#13 Paul Fell
January/10/2009
@ 11:07 am

Just in case some you don’t know, the Rocky Mountain News, home to 2 great cartoonists, Ed Stein and Drew Litton, is looking at the prospect of closing their doors pretty soon.

#14 Steve Greenberg
January/10/2009
@ 11:37 am

Through the beginning of 2000, I was the second editorial cartoonist at the Seattle P-I. The thought that they might fold altogether is wrenching.

David Horsey is enormously popular up there, so he will likely find a way to survive largely intact, but I worry for all their other staffers, many of whom I worked with for years.

And I’m sure the AAEC was expecting some Seattle P-I to back its convention there this July. Many the University of Washington has some dorm rooms where we can crash…

It sure didn’t take long for 2009 to suck.

#15 Wiley Miller
January/10/2009
@ 12:03 pm

The Seattle convention venue has been downsized to being held at the airport Motel 6. The meetings will all take place in parking lot, and the lunch / dinner venues will be held at the McDonald’s around the corner.

#16 Stacy Curtis
January/10/2009
@ 1:29 pm

By the Fourth of July, there will only be one full-time staff editorial cartoonist left anyway, and he doesn’t even go to the AAEC conventions.

#17 Mike Peterson
January/10/2009
@ 1:47 pm

“Actually, I have a Lane recliner, Mike. Barcaloungers are for the riffraff.”

So here I tilt back in my cheap, threadbare chair and read “Ordinary Basil” to my granddaughters while you’re slaving away at your drawing board on the next exciting story so you can pay for that nice, expensive, comfy lounger that your hindside never touches?

Funny old world, Wiley, ain’t it?

#18 Abell Smith
January/10/2009
@ 3:47 pm

“The Seattle convention venue has been downsized to being held at the airport Motel 6. The meetings will all take place in parking lot, and the lunch / dinner venues will be held at the McDonaldâ??s around the corner.”

Screw that, we’ll be ready for a party up here. People seem to be drinking more than usual lately, what with the economy totally in the tank, a crippling weather event every other week, our sports teams all sucking royally (or gone to Oklahoma City), and now the P-I going away. Lotta reasons to blow off steam in Seattle!

#19 Robert Gidley
January/10/2009
@ 7:39 pm

The P-I should never have cancelled “Zippy.” One week after doing that, they’re on the auction block.

#20 Bill Hinds
January/12/2009
@ 10:11 am

I don’t know why newspaper web sites would be more successful than other news sites. Every major city has web sites for each tv and radio station. There are all sorts of national news web sites.
Newspapers should recognize their business contains the word “paper”, and redesign themselves to fit the print market. For instance, breaking headlines look ridiculous and ancient on the front page of a newspaper. If I were editor/publisher of the world, or “World,” if that were the name of the paper, I would go to my strengths. I would run a half-page photo on every front page. Let’s see a web site do that. I would do more local news, and a lot more local feature stories?stories people like to cut out. I would spread the comics strips throughout the whole newspaper. I think putting them all on one page gives the affect of piling them in the corner. I would print a daily opinion section instead of giving editorials a few pages in the back of a news section. Opinion has a longer shelf life than news. And I would run a large editorial cartoon on the front of that section. Also, I would run the newspaper into the ground in a week, because I’m a cartoonist, not an editor/publisher.
I would love to see a creative redesign of a major paper instead of just punting to the web.

#21 Bill Hinds
January/12/2009
@ 10:15 am

And if I were an editor I would’ve used “effect” instead of “affect.”

#22 Tom Wood
January/12/2009
@ 10:37 am

Bill –

What you describe is pretty much what the ‘Alternative Weeklies’ have been doing for years. And they’re still standing. Here in Austin the Chronicle has become a larger paper while the daily is a slim ghost of its former self. How the weekly business model might translate to a daily is a question, but the weeklies are doing something right.

#23 Mike Lester
January/12/2009
@ 10:37 am

Newspapers are mimicking the prevailing breadline bailout attitude that is so red carpet chic these days: we can’t make it in a capitalistic revenue model so let’s nationalize the news. -And porn while we’re at it.

Not that they’re all that revolutionary, but I like some of Bill’s ideas esp. the distribution of graphics, cartoons and photo’s.

fyi: Today the Atlanta Const. began printing the daily comics in color. Some features did not benefit from the effort.

#24 Bill Hinds
January/12/2009
@ 10:41 am

Isn’t the UT paper bigger.
The Austin American-Statesman would pick up a lot of subscribers by running reruns of “Eyebeam” and “Dirty Ranger.”

#25 Tom Wood
January/12/2009
@ 10:56 am

The Texan? I’ll have to wander down to the Drag and pick up a copy. Last time I looked it was still only a few pages.

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