Boo fucking hoo.
Ever wanted to know what a death sentence feels like? You can get a pretty good idea over at the Seattle Post Intelligencer. On Jan. 9, Steve Swartz, an executive from Hearst, announced in the newsroom that the company was putting the money-losing newspaper, known locally as the P-I, up for sale for 60 days.
As you might expect of any news broken in an actual newsroom, the whole thing was captured on grainy video. One reporter holds a digital recorder, a photographer snaps away. The executives wear shirtsleeves with ties askew. When Swartz, looking not unlike a man condemned, says “at the end of the sale process, we do not see ourselves publishing the P-I in print,” he has to raise his voice to be heard over unanswered phones and garbled bursts from the police radio.
All the reporters know that the chances of a sale are slim. “I’d say infinitesimal,” says Bill Virgin, one the paper’s business columnists. “It was only the third most significant regional economic news I wrote about that day.” Given that such metropolitan papers as the Rocky Mountain News, the San Diego Union Tribune and the Austin American Statesman have not exactly been fending off eager buyers since being put up for sale last year, and given that the P-I lost $14 million last year, it looks unlikely it will last past March, at least as a fully-fledged newspaper. (See “the top 10 worst business deals”)
So what does a newspaper’s editorial staff do when faced with the deadliest of deadlines? It does what any modern news organization would do. Or what any disgruntled employee would do. Or any spurned teenager with fingers. It writes about itself on the Internet. On Sixty Days, different journalists, including managing editor David McCumber, are covering the P-I’s two-month drain-circle day-by-day. The blog has little historical stories about the paper, the video of Swartz’s fateful announcement and accounts of McCumber’s attempts to find a buyer and handle editorial meetings. All of which means that the closest account of the paper’s death walk will be delivered via the instrument that partly brought it about.
Hat tip to Ace of Spades: http://minx.cc/?post=281200
As mentioned in the article, the advent of the internet is a death knell for print media. Large publications already have online news sites anyway. Look for surviving print media to shift their reporting exclusively to the internet.
As Ace pointed out:
Seattle may be a liberal stronghold, but is ringed by moderate to conservative-leaning suburbs (though not so many as a decade ago). Shockingly enough, there are also a zillion military bases in the area.
Army base Ft. Lewis, and the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, among them.
As you might imagine, the paper’s possible demise did not go without comment from the witty, hi-larious pundits at Ace’s site. Some of the standouts:
” Seattle PI Death Blog Day 1: We hear an explosive sound of the sudden opening of a water tank. Water cascades down on us from above our pool of water….”
Seattle PI Death Blog Day 53: So cold. So very cold.
Well, it’s official, I’m all alone in the building. That homeless Filipino guy that wandered in last week left on Saturday. Didn’t even say goodbye.
Turned off the heat yesterday, the bastards. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal or something. I’ve managed to keep warm by wrapping myself in a 6-inch layer of newprint with a covering layer of Cling Wrap (TM).
FYI: newprint doesn’t absorb near the amount of urine you would think. Not even close. Very surprising. The newprint seems to stop even the normal expected amount of evaporation.
Posted by: jimmy at January 16, 2009 04:09 AM (/AtkL)
Seattle PI Death Blog Day 59: No money. Need job.
Sherrif’s department said I will be crushed under concrete and plaster by wrecking ball if I don’t “vaykate the premises” by tonite. I’m pretty sure he’s from Alabama or something, but in any case he sounds serious.
So, as I sit in my urine-soaked newsprint long-johns, I am officially requesting anyone to help me find a job. I’ll even consider working for a conservative blog under the right circumstances. While I am all for free home abortions on demand and government funded Heroin administration centers just like the next guy, I am getting desperate. I am willing to stiffle my progressive worldview (it’ll be a cool chapter in my memoirs). I can also truncate long URLs.
Posted by: jimmy at January 16, 2009 04:28 AM (/AtkL)
Seattle PI Death Blog Day 60+: UPDATE! Hi all. Just to let you know I am doing just fine, thank you very much. No, despite the rumours, I was NOT one of the 13 suicides among PI staff last month (could I write this is I was?). My Filipino friend, Armin “Inky” Lagaspi hooked me up with a pretty nice gig as a guest relations officer at a swingin’ hot spot in town. It caters to a very exclusive progressive segment of society, so I am opening all sorts of doors. It’s really great. I hate myself.
Posted by: jimmy at January 16, 2009 04:41 AM (JHJsD)
Seattle PI Death Blog Day 30: While we huddle for warmth around the lone espresso maker still plugged in, we sustain ourselves with a shared dish of vegetarian lasagna, half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Rainforest Crunch. There are rumors of a state official with a LIST of some of us in favor who can be hired in the governor’s PR dept with stimulus money diverted from preschool programs.
Posted by: kbdabear at January 16, 2009 04:41 AM (miw86)
Each employee is entitled to a lovely parting gift of 10 yards of newsprint. (unsold sunday issue). Now they have to make the hard decision. Trade it for a box so they can live in Pioneer Square with the up scale hobo’s or burn it for a quick ten minutes of heat, or wrap themselves in it so it’s more comfortable to sleep under that park bench.
If they wear the newspaper like a blanket too long in the drizzling rain that is the norm this time of year, they are in danger of forming a little paper mache type mummy outfit. They should keep moving and find that soup kitchen.
Sympathy, no I don’t think so.
Posted by: Mephitis at January 16, 2009 10:03 AM (17pTk)
There’s been a crapload of Chapter 11 bankruptcies, budget cuts, and ‘For Sale’ signs going up at newspapers around the country. Fishwrap like The New York Times and the Boston Globe, are feeling the pinch.
Since they served their Obamessiah so well during the election, maybe he will add them to the panhandlers on the bailout list.
In case you have any doubt as to the pompous Ivory Tower atttitude, here’s just a sample of what David McCumber had to say in his editorial:
” I understand that people have a hard time with the concept that we get to decide what is news and what isn’t, and what is fair and what isn’t.”
Guess what? Looks like the public decided you’re full of shit.
And speaking of trash, the largest major newspaper in our area, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is cutting back as well.
Top Plain Dealer executives – Publisher Terry Egger and Editor Susan Goldberg – told worried editorial staff members yesterday that the business climate is so bad that the paper plans to cut 35 pages a week from its news pages and 20 percent of its workforce.
Egger said they were looking at “drastic changes,” according to PD reporters.
That’s 35 pages of less news every week or 1,820 pages a year for readers of Cleveland’s only daily newspaper.
A day ago the Tribune Company announced it would chop 500 pages a week from its newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Hartford Courant and others. The New York Times reported that it could mean 82 pages a day cut from the L. A. Times.
The plan has to be approved by Advance publications, owned by the Newhouse family, Plain Dealer owners.
A newspaper price increase is also contemplated.
The paper has already lost some 17 percent of its editorial staff after a recent buyout.
After the Cleveland Press folded, the city has become a one-newspaper town to its own detriment.
Now and then I get subscription offers from the PD over the phone (I live in Lorain), and I say thanks, but no thanks.
One of the most notorious episodes with the PD involved Joel Rose, a local TV news celebrity.
He had a biting, sarcastic wit, and he was well liked. The “Pee Dee” used ‘anonymous sources’ to cite a sex/stalking scandal with his name attached. Forget the fact that DNA and the typewriter used in the incident DID NOT MATCH Joel’s. (http://www.clevelandleader.com/node/1942)
When the faux story hit the headlines, Rose put a gun to his temple. The PD editors hid under their desks and have never apologized or retracted their libel.
Aside from the slanderous damage they did to people like Joel Rose, the paper took a left turn some time ago, and never looked back. The Obama endorsement was the last nail in the coffin, as far as I’m concerned.
These liberal media effetes trashed the country, military, and George Bush for the last eight years, and now they’re begging for a handout from some of the very people they trashed. I can’t seem to muster up any sympathy.