News Cycle

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Seattle P-I Faces Dropping Newsprint, Needs Buyer in 60 Days

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After losing $14 million in 2008, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is looking for an agreement with a potential buyer in 60 days, Steven Swartz, president of the Hearst Corp.’s newspaper division, told a stunned newsroom Friday. Hearst said that should a sale of the P-I not occur within 60 days, it will pursue other options for the property. These options include a move to a digital-only operation with a greatly reduced staff or a complete shutdown of all operations. In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form following the conclusion of this process.

“Since 2000, the P-I has lost money each year, and the losses have escalated and continue to escalate in 2009,” he said in a P-I report.

“We have had to make a very tough decision. This is a business decision and it is no reflection on your work. The decision reflects our inability to see the losses turning around soon,” he said. Here is video of the announcement:

http://services.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1526070353

Dan Richman and Andrea James of the P-I filed this report:

In an interview Friday, managing director Bob Broadwater said of the assignment, “It’s clear that right now the overall marketplace for media is very challenging. The financing climate is very bad, and there have not been a lot of transactions recently.”

When asked if he is optimistic about selling the P-I, Broadwater declined to comment.

But he added, “We’ve been hired to sell it, and that’s what we’re going to do. We intend to do the very best job we can.”

In Swartz’s announcement to the P-I newsroom, he stressed that Hearst is not interested in buying its cross-town rival, The Seattle Times. He declined to answer any questions from the staff gathered in the newsroom, even though some shouted out questions to him.

P-I employees were silent as they listened to the announcement, which lasted about 10 minutes. Some of them shed tears. Others held up cell phones or voice recorders in press-conference fashion.

UPDATE: And in pouring salt on its already painful wound, it appears that a local television station beat the P-I to the news. Ouch.

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Written by newscycle

January 10, 2009 at 12:49 am

Posted in Seattle P-I

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