Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hearst's Seattle Paper: Sell, Shutter or Digitize

John Dickson / P-I
P-I business editor Margaret Santjer, left, works with senior online producer Sarah Rupp as they post a story about the P-I's being put up for sale. In the background, Steven Swartz, president of The Hearst Corp.'s newspaper division, addresses the staff. At right is managing editor David McCumber.

From Associated Press:

Hearst Corp. put Seattle's oldest newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, up for sale Friday, saying that if it can't find a buyer in the next 60 days, the paper will close or continue to exist only on the Internet.

"These options include a move to a digital-only operation with a greatly reduced staff or a complete shutdown of all operations," Hearst, the Post-Intelligencer's parent company, said in a statement. "In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form following the conclusion of this process."

Hearst Newspaper Division President Steve Swartz broke the news in a meeting with newspaper employees.

The statement said Hearst is not considering buying the Seattle Times, the city's other daily paper. Hearst has owned the P-I since 1921, and the paper has had operating losses since 2000, including $14 million last year.

The mood in the newsroom was grim. Some staff members cried, others were angry.

"People are kind of depressed. There's some crying," said Candace Heckman, P-I breaking news editor who has worked at the paper since 2000. She said Mr. Swartz was peppered with many questions by staffers but declined to say more.

"Our journalists continue to do a spectacular job of serving the people of Seattle, which has been our great privilege for the past 88 years," Mr. Swartz said in a written statement. "But our losses have reached an unacceptable level, so with great regret we are seeking a new owner for the P-I.

Chris Grygiel, an assistant city editor, said neither Mr. Swartz nor P-I executives took questions at the meeting. "People are just pretty shocked and amazed."

> After 146 years, the newspaper's days are numbered: 60

> Seattle P-I up for sale; could go online-only


> Monitor to trim its staff by 7 percent

> Buffalo News offers new round of employee buyouts

> Dow Jones Freezes Salaries

> Boston Globe will sell space for ads on front page

> Star Tribune heading for bankruptcy after Guild bolts?

> St. Louis Post-Dispatch laying off 39, with 14 in newsroom

> Body Count at Singleton's Los Angeles Newspaper Group

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