The coming demise of the Seattle PI which was announced on Friday was a disappointing turn in events which had been forecast for over twenty years. Only a couple of years ago the Times and the PI were in court because the Times was trying to kill the JOA agreement which would in turn kill the PI. The Hearst Corporation spent millions of dollars fighting that one in court and eventually prevailed.
The Hearst Corporation till recently has always wanted to own the Seattle Times. By owning the Times they would control the market. The millions of dollars they spent defending the JOA was an investment in bleeding the Times till they were forced to eventually sell.
This year they decided maybe owning newspapers period in their present form were no longer worth it. The economic model of a newspaper simply doesn't work well anymore because the Internet has siphoned off circulation and most importantly ad revenue.
The Seattle Times will end up being the only newspaper in town in sixty days but that hard won victory ultimately won't save the business long term because printing newspapers simply has become a stone age endeavor during the information age. Even with a near monopoly in Seattle the Times simply may not survive because of some bad investments in Maine which have hurt cash flow.
The PI on the other hand may end up being the ultimate winner if the do not sell in 60 days. Word has it that they are considering going with an all Internet format which will make them the first newspaper in the country to go completely electronic. Hearst has the money to fund such an experiment and it just may end up being the way everyone reads the newspaper in any town in the not too distant future.
I've been gone from Seattle for almost twenty years so I always read the paper via the Internet and I prefer it. Don't get me wrong I like the actual paper but I don't like the mess it always made on the coffee table. I prefer to read the news on my laptop every day.
If the PI can figure out how to cleverly maximize advertising revenue and significantly cut overhead by going all electronic perhaps the PI just may be around for another 100 years or so in a new format.
Hopefully that is the direction they end up going.