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March 10, 2009

Overnight Open Thread: Seattle P-I Stay of Execution? (genghis)

Update: "Episode IV: A False Hope." A P-I reporter posted the following at their "media partner" KOMO news website earlier this evening: Seattle P-I Closure Appears Near. Appears? You don't say. But there are at least a few new details:

"SEATTLE -- Despite The Hearst Corp.'s statement Tuesday morning that it hasn't decided whether to sell or shut down the Seattle P-I, clues emerged later in the day suggesting that Hearst plans to close the 146-year-old paper shortly and will continue operating a Web site."

"Staffers learned Tuesday afternoon that boxes and bins are scheduled to be delivered to the newsroom later this week -- some for materials to be taken home, others for notes that require shredding."

"Employees were told to file promptly to be reimbursed for their expenses. And they were told they can retain their cell phone numbers if they wish."

There's some disgruntlement amongst the ranks:

""It would be nice to have some clarity," business reporter Joseph Tartakoff said. "It's really hard to plan your work when you're not sure if you'll be around the next day."

I can't think of a single crack to make about that statement.I'll bet you can though. But does it get better you ask? Of course it does!

"Separately, the largest union at the Hearst-owned San Francisco Chronicle reached a tentative agreement late Monday on contract concessions as part of Hearst's efforts to dramatically cut costs to prevent a sale or closure, though the deal still may not keep the 144-year-old daily from shuttering or being sold."

So it looks like we'll be moving on to our next target soon. As the ancient saying goes: "When one door closes another one opens." Or some nonsensical bullshit similar to that. Original post is moved below the fold since this is becoming about a mile too long.



Looks like the Seattle P-I got a temporary reprieve from its mother ship, the Hearst Corp., today. Wednesday was supposed to be the paper’s appointment with the gallows.

”Staff at the newspaper have been told that Wednesday's paper won't be the last one. But the P-I's parent company, Hearst Corp., isn't giving further details. Spokesman Paul Luthringer says only, "We are still examining our options."”
“Hearst announced Jan. 9 that it was putting Seattle's second-largest daily up for sale, and that if no buyer could be found within 60 days, the paper would be shut down or possibly continued as a Web-only operation.”

So that’s not really helpful, but it means we get to watch them slowly twist in the wind for a bit longer.

I found a couple of articles that might provide some background on the newspaper bidness. It’s true that part of the problem is they’ve alienated half the population, but there are other issues in play as well (bad business models, increasing competition from other sources, falling ad rates etc.)

Here’s a little summary about the increasing pressure for papers to move to an online format or die.

And here’s a 1988 editorial from, of all places, the New York Times titled A Crutch for Failing Newspapers. They actually applaud Pres. Reagan’s A.G., Ed Meese’s decision to allow a Joint Operating Agreement between Detroit’s two main papers at the time so they could both survive. So in a way, these failing papers have been getting a sort-of bailout package for many years under these JOAs when they probably should have been cut loose to fail on their own. Just seems like it delayed the inevitable.

”Critics charge that The Free Press and The News did by failing what neither could do by intelligent competition: Sew up the fifth-largest newspaper market in the country, a prize worth as much as $300 million a year.”

While JOA’s have been around since the 1930’s, the practice was somewhat formalized with the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970. The Wikipedia article gives a little more background on the act along with a list of cities where papers are currently operating under JOAs along with a list of those that terminated or failed.

While we’re waiting for the P-I to die, here’s a couple of videos below the fold to keep you entertained (they’re old, but probably not everyone has seen them)

First: “One of these things is not like the others:” Since I know you’re all devoted fans of Miley Cyrus, here’s a short vid of her at a book signing in NYC. See if you can spot the creepy discrepancy. (Short Subway add up front but mercifully it’s Jared-free).

Second: Beer Bottle Dominos. It really needs no explanation beyond that. I’m not really convinced they did that in one take, but I admire all the effort they had to have put in to empty all those beer bottles. It’s good to see that some in America are still willing to roll up their sleeves in support of their chosen craft. It’s quite inspirational.

I found both of those vids at my favorite radio producer Phil the News Junkie’s blog. He’s got plenty more funny over there, so be sure to stop by and say hello.

Announcement: Regarding last night’s overnight open thread: “Silly,” I left you a mea culpa there so please read if you get a chance. I didn’t want to post it here since it’d be meaningless without context. And it’s really a kinda’ mea culpa to everyone else as well, not just “silly.” It’s at comment #81.

Also wanted to say I appreciate all the tips and do read every one of them. I’d like to post most if not all of them but I’m sort of limited to one or two a night due to the worldwide pixel crunch. But remember…it’s an open thread so no one needs to feel limited to whatever piece of shit I put in the post. That’s just something to grease the skids a little. So if your tip doesn’t get posted, go ahead and link it in the comments. There’s never a set topic. Also, sorry I can’t reply to everyone…It’s simply due to time constraints. Thanks.

Notice: Posted by permission of AceCorp LLC. Please e-mail overnight open thread tips to xgenghisx@gmail.com. Otherwise send tips to Ace.

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posted by xgenghisx at 11:17 PM

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