After learning that the 146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer would cease operations today, we invited the paper’s staffers to share some thoughts and reflections. The invitation still stands: write to us at email@example.com. We will update this tribute as more thoughts arrive.
Paul Joseph Brown, staff photographer
We all know what a divorce is. It is what happens to bring a bad marriage to an end. Losing my job is like a divorce from a really good marriage. It’s a shock to the system. I’ve worked for five newspapers in six states. It’s been a great ride. When I chose photojournalism over the Foreign Service and law school I didn’t think I was making a risky move.
Janet Grimley, assistant managing editor
This is a very sad time for all of us. I’ve worked at the Seattle P-I for thirty-four years, ten months, so have lived through rumors of our impending demise for many years. We survived several mini-recessions, the creation of a Joint Operating Agreement, our competition going head-to-head with us in the morning, a newspaper strike, and a successful lawsuit against our JOA partner. So, when Hearst announced they were shutting us down, it was a huge shock to the newsroom. It’s uncomfortable to be the news, instead of covering the news.
A unemployment counselor said to a group of us: “Now you can all find the perfect job.” She just didn’t understand; this was our perfect job. Working for a newspaper isn’t a job, it’s a way of life. Where else can we work with such quirky, smart, and interesting people? It’s like your own information service—someone is an expert on whatever you need to know. And where else can you get paid to ask snoopy questions to strangers?
I feel fortunate in doing what I love for all these years and am sad for the younger staffers who will never have the same opportunity. It’s the end of an era. While I’m happy the Seattle P-I name will live on with the website, it won’t be the same. A staff of twenty can’t cover what over 150 reporters and editors covered for the print product. There won’t be the investigative reporting with hundreds of dollars spent on background research. But, long stories don’t draw readers online anyway, so online readers probably won’t notice or care. I’m sure many of the public agencies we’ve investigated are happy we’re shutting down as there will be one less set of investigative reporters snooping around! But, the public will be ill served as they’re losing a champion of their rights.
Regina Hackett, art critic
The Hearst Corporation has always treated the P-I like a placeholder. When there was money to be spent, they didn’t spend it here. This is the time to invent the template for the transition from newsprint to online only, and once again, the Hearst Corporation is doing it bare bones. A skeleton looks plump compared to poorly-paid online crew. I wish it well, but those people have a near-impossible task. The future according to the Hearst Corporation seems to be, journalism without journalists.
Debera Harrell, reporter
It has, indeed, been a very corrosive, depressing time for those of us who have dedicated heart and soul to this profession.
I would like a deeper, broader public discussion about what journalism really is and its true role in society. Marshall McLuhan said “the medium is the message” forty years ago; now we know what he meant—but what are we going to do about it?
The Internet is causing much excitement from those making money off it (who not coincidentally are the loudest voices claiming newspapers are dead), but it is also causing a backlash from those of all ages who do not want to be chained to their electronic devices all day long.
A huge truth is that online journalism is being deployed to break unions—and I say this on behalf of my many highly educated, talented colleagues who are now without jobs because of this unfortunate trend. The corporate bottom line has trumped public service.