Hearst Corporation did not find a buyer for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the last print edition will go out to 117,600 subscribers today. However, the 146-year-old publication will continue on as an online only news site. “Our goal now is to turn SeattlePI.com into the leading news and information portal in the region,” said Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr.
Hearst put the P-I up for sale in January and said that the newspaper would be shut down if no buyer was found within 60 days. No sale materialized, but a few days ago the P-I reported that some staffers were being offered jobs at an online-only successor.
“Seattlepi.com isn’t a newspaper online — it’s an effort to craft a new type of digital business with a robust, community news and information Web site at its core,” said Steven Swartz, President of Hearst Newspapers. “It will feature the breaking news reporting of Chris Grygiel and others covering City Hall; Levi Pulkkinen reporting on the court system; popular staff blogs like Seattle 911 with Casey McNerthney and the Big Blog by Monica Guzman; columnists like Joel Connelly, Art Thiel and Jim Moore; and of course, the cartooning and commentary of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey. The Web is first and foremost a community platform, so we’ll be featuring new columns from prominent Seattle residents; more than 150 reader blogs, community data bases and photo galleries. We’ll also be linking to the great work of other Web sites and blogs in the community,” he said.
“On the business side, we are assembling a staff to form a local digital agency that will sell local businesses advertising on seattlepi.com as well as the digital advertising products of our partners: Yahoo! for display advertising, Kaango for general marketplaces and Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask.com for search engine marketing. The site will also feature a digital yellow pages directory powered by Hearst’s yellow pages unit, White Directory Publishers,” Swartz said.
Although the Seattle Times will now have a monopoly on the daily newspaper business in the market, there are doubts being expressed about its ability to survive. The daily owned by the local Blethen family has been seeking cost reductions and opened its books to unions who’ve been asked for concessions. One union economist was quoted in the Puget Sound Business Journal as saying that the Times is “in dire financial straits and needs to sell off operations or shut some down.”