This week marked the final paper edition of the elder of Seattle’s daily newspapers – the PI. I have several sentimental attachments here, which make me very sad to see it go.
First off – my good friend John was the Photo Editor for the paper. In addition to being a great runner, and a really nice person, John was very good at his job. You can check out some of his handiwork yourself by checking out the photo archives available on http://www.seattlepi.com/pimemories/final.asp.
Secondly, owing in large part to John’s input – a group of us graced the front page of the PI back in November of 2006. This was for an article talking about Marathon Maniacs in general and the Seattle Marathon in particular. The article and accompanying photo appeared between articles about Iraq War casualties and suicide bombers – an upbeat diversion with some good human interest as well. I remember being interviewed for the article via cell phone, while in the car with two very unhappy, noisy kids.
Another sentimental time with the PI was seeing our late friend Peter commemorated there in 2005.
The central issue for me is who will fill in the estimable gap for responsible local news reporting? The few times I’ve watched local TV news have not impressed me. The Seattle Times has been hit with staff reductions in recent years, and the emphasis is more and more on aggregating news from the wire services.
Over the years, the PI demonstrated good journalistic discipline and focus, which serve to keep public figures more honest. Irony was evident in the Everett Herald’s account of the PI’s closing, in which they quoted controversial political activist Tim Eyman as attributing the PI’s closing to " … all the liberal policies they’ve advocated all these years have come home to roost and contributed to them going out of business,". Eyman would definitely have motivation to dance on the grave of the PI, because the paper exposed him as skimming money off the top of his PAC in February of 2002.
The new PI will employ 20 reporters and 20 advertising folks. That isn’t likely to yield much journalistic reach, no matter how hard they try. Who’s going to keep people honest? I understand that the business side of things needs reworking, but know that somehow – there’s got to be a financially viable way to do real journalism.
Check out the pictures of the last day of the paper PI too. It illustrates that the people behind the paper will miss doing this.