Seattle Courant

The P-I to Stop Printing Tomorrow, says Hearst

The Seattle P-I Globe. Photo by Keith Vance
By Keith Vance
March 16, 2009 03:03PM

The clock started ticking on the P-I in January when the Hearst Corp., which has owned the newspaper since 1921, announced that it was putting the P-I up for sale. If nobody bought the paper within 60 days, it would be shut down.

Well not surprisingly, no one stepped up to purchase the newspaper, which according to Hearst lost $14 million last year. But rather than just walking away, Hearst has decided to drop the print edition but remain as an online newspaper with a much smaller staff.

And as sad as it may be to see an institution like the P-I struggle, what's kept the newspaper going for the last 25 years has been the joint operating agreement. Without the JOA, the P-I would have folded decades ago. The 1983 agreement between the P-I and the Seattle Times enabled the P-I to remain as a newsroom only, with the Times providing all of the advertising, marketing, sales, production and circulation.

According to a report in the Seattle Times, Oglesby said the JOA is being terminated. It remains unclear which reporters, editors and columnists will stay working for P-I's online edition, or the status of union contracts. According to the Times article, the majority of the 167 P-I employees will lose their jobs with the online P-I consisting of only 20 to 25 employees.

When you look at the P-I's history, transformation has been a part of the P-I since it began 146 years ago. The first edition of the newspaper came out in 1863 under the Seattle Gazette masthead. In 1867, Sam Maxwell purchased the Gazette for $300 from J.R. Watson and renamed it the Weekly Intelligencer. Then in 1881, the Intelligencer merged with the Seattle Post to form the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

And so it goes.

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Video of the announcement by Oglesby can be found here.