The Fate of Former P-I Employees

Ruth Teichroeb, who worked as an investigative reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1997 until its demise in March, is not done investigating. On Wednesday she published a survey on her ironically titled blog, Safety Net, of what has become of her former colleagues in the last nine months.

It’s not reassuring. Seventy-one of the 140 people laid off when the paper canceled its print edition and went online-only responded to Teichroeb’s survey. Here’s the breakdown:

• 23 have new fulltime jobs for an employer, half working in journalism and the rest in corporate or nonprofit communications, business, etc.

• 3 are working part-time for an employer and 6 started their own businesses

• 18 are freelancing (blogs, photography) or working on journalism start-ups (Post-Globe, InvestigateWest) and collecting unemployment

• 14 are in school, including 10 who are also on unemployment. Studies include education, web design, marketing, paralegal, art

• 4 said a combination of unemployment/jobhunting/parenting while two retired and one has a journalism fellowship

Teichroeb’s post is worth reading in its entirety. It contains a number of quotes from her former colleagues and goes into greater detail about the overall trends apparent in the breakdown above.

Some people – such as James Wallace, the paper’s former aerospace reporter, who took a job with Boeing – are actually happier than they were before, but most miss the newsroom and lament the decline of regional journalism. As we noted in a column last March, the P-I was particularly strong in the field of environment and science coverage.

Teichroeb’s post notes that 25 percent of her former colleagues are “blogging, freelancing or working on journalism start-ups like Post-Globe or InvestigateWest for little or no money.” However, InvestigateWest, which focuses on environmental issues, recently received its first major grant – a $40,000 contribution from The Bullitt Foundation. It is certainly no panacea for the troubled industry, but it’s a start.

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Curtis Brainard writes on science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.