The Distinctive Seattle P-I Globe

The Distinctive Seattle P-I Globe. (Bryan Kellar photo)

It is with a sad and heavy heart that I contemplate the rumored sale of one of Seattle’s two daily newspapers, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  While the newspaper’s owners claim that the paper has not made a profit in decades, it is truly important for a city or a region to have as many reliable news sources as possible.   At a lot of different levels, today’s news is particularly sad.

News is an important part of my life.  For as long as I have been able to read, I have been a “news junkie” getting my fix through as many sources as possible.  In the pre-Internet days, it was not unusual for as many as three newspapers to land on my porch each day.  I would devour them.

As time has gone on, we now get our news from different sources.  Today, I faithfully read daily the websites of six of the newspapers listed on the right-hand column of this blog, and I consult all of the others relatively frequently.  However, while this may be the trend of the future, reading a paper’s website is not the same as actually reading the paper.  A website has a selection of the articles in the paper, and actually holds an advantage in that it can be updated quickly.  But you don’t get everything.

I personally find that reading the daily newspapers kept me connected with the goings-on of our city and state.  The news is not just that a new mayor was elected.  Sometimes the things that keep you connected are the daily happenings in our neighborhoods  and announcements of store openings.  The detail in the written paper is invaluable.  The online version, in its present form, just doesn’t do the same thing.

If the daily newspaper disappears, we will certainly in this age find other sources for national and international news.  That is everywhere.  What we lose is the great level of daily news that we are used to.  Before you tell me that you can get that anywhere, remember that the Seattle news you read in a far-off publication was retrieved from the Associated Press.  This means that the source was a reporter in Seattle, working for a Seattle media source that contributes to the AP.  The end-sum will be less Seattle-area news anyway you look at it.

At another level, fewer working journalists means that fewer stories are covered, and fewer points of view are presented.  The presence of the press tends to keep our leaders “honest” and discourages wrongdoing.  While this newspaper is one of several outlets for news and employers of journalists in Seattle, it is certainly one of the most respected and one of the most capable.  The crew working down at the P-I are among the best in the business.  This is a loss for the people who lose their jobs. It is a greater loss for we consumers of their prose.

The P-I has been a part of Seattle for just about forever.  It has reported the good news and the bad.  It has survived cultural change and great depressions.  Silencing this collective voice is truly a catastrophe.

It is said that someday, all newspapers will be online.  For that to happen though, they will need to be in a different format than the online websites that newspapers now make available.  Improvements and changes will need to be made for that to work.  Changes will need to be made to make such a venture profitable for owners of newspapers.  And changes will be necessary to allow the new medium to be as useful as the printed paper.  That will eventually happen.  But the best situation would be for that to happen when the time is right.

Oh, there is one other level of reminiscence here.  If you subscribed to the P-I in the mid-1970’s and lived north of the University Village, or perhaps as far over as Ravenna Park, then I may have delivered the P-I to your doorstep when I was a kid.  There’s something just satisfying about hearing the newspaper clunk on the front porch in the morning in time for the morning cup of tea.  Sure, looking it up on the Internet might keep you from having to open up the door to the cold.  But having that paper in your hand, where you can browse and find not only the information you are interested in, but also the information you didn’t know you were interested in yet, has no comparison online.  Yet.

I would like to think that perhaps the blogosphere will someday provide a lot of the news you need, and provide some competition for the paper.  But the paper provides one place to get all the news, mostly unadulterated by opinion (except in the proper section).  Most of the blogs I read clearly have a leaning one way or the other.

I grieve for the P-I employees who may be losing their jobs.  Perhaps a solution will be found soon that will not eliminate one of Seattle’s two major newspapers.  One way or the other, if the Seattle P-I disappears, we will all have lost a little bit of our souls.