The Seattle Post-Intelligencer news website just laid off a whole bunch of people. They’re down to just five staffers – five. They were a cash cow when I was a kid. This got me thinking about how I’m so connected to newspapers and how papers like the P.I. led to my love of news. Now they need to just shutter the thing.
When I was a kid, we would get the P.I. in the morning and the Seattle Times in the afternoon. When I started this show 23 years ago, we didn’t have the web. We were literally cutting articles out of the paper. Seattle was once one of the great newspaper towns in America. I wish we still had the heyday of newspapers in town. The only two newspapers in the country that have figured out how to monetize things in a digital age are the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Newspapers are an important, critical part of the journalism spectrum. It’s sad what has happened to the P.I. Reporter Levi Pulkkinen was cranking out a lot of good stuff, but he left. Now they’re down to five people.
Five people writing all of their web content. They used to have hundreds.
Current 710 ESPN host Jim Moore, a former sports columnist at the Seattle P.I., told me that he also believes the P.I. is on its deathbed.
“I think it’s time just to shut it completely down, because whatever you used to think of the Seattle P.I. and seattlepi.com, it’s not that anymore,” he said.
The newspaper’s digital-only model “worked for a little while … they at least stayed afloat,” Moore said, but he observed that “lately, it’s just become a shell of what it used to be.”
The problem, Moore said, is that the newspaper finds “more value in the outrageous, stupendous, sensationalized stuff rather than the hard news-type things we used to focus on.”
“It saddens me to know that the P.I. is not around anymore,” Moore said.
I have all these wonderful memories from those papers. The P.I. and the Times both contributed mightily to my lifetime as a degenerate gambler. They both had a section where you could mark your guesses for the upcoming NFL and college football games. You couldn’t make photocopies, but you could turn in as many original entries as you wanted. At age 7 or 8, I would go a five-block radius from my house, door-to-door, asking people if they had Monday’s or Tuesday’s sports sections. Almost everybody in the five-block radius would set aside the sports pages for me.
My poor mom, bless her heart, every Friday evening, would drive me downtown Seattle to the dropbox where you could put the football guest-guesser coupons. On Saturday afternoons, I would sit glued to the radio because on the Husky football radio post game show, they would do scores from around the country. On a sheet of notebook paper, I had a grid of every game matchup I had made. You could win $100 if you were a weekly winner, and I did win once or twice.
I remember driving to that P.I. building on Broad with the huge globe above it. It was magical – it was just magical for me. I looked at those buildings and had a sense of awe and wonder.
At age 9, my friend Christina and I pitched a column to the Times to be printed on their kids page. We wrote a mock-up Q+A “Dear Abby-type” column for them. We didn’t get the job, but we did land a meeting with the editor of that page.
Both of those papers are struggling now. The Times is also a shell – they had 20 or so layoffs last year. The P.I. basically doesn’t exist anymore after this week’s layoffs. And it just makes me sad because I feel such a connection to them from my childhood here.
I don’t know what the future is for the Times, but the PI should sadly just shutter the website after this week.