Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Hearst Not Killing Seattle’s Post-Intelligencer, After All–Just Gutting It

newspaperlessIn January, when Hearst said it would either turn the Seattle Post-Intelligencer into an online-only newspaper or pull the plug altogether, I said they’d do the latter.

I got that one wrong. Hearst is getting ready to launch a Web version of the paper while shutting down the print version as early as next week, the PI reports.

But Hearst seems to agree with my dubious assessment of a Web-only paper’s chances. Which is why it’s preparing to go ahead with just a handful of the paper’s existing staffers.

The PI says perhaps 20 will stay on at the digital version. It’s possible that number may get bigger once you factor in folks from the business side. But it’s still going to be a tiny crew: The PI currently employs some 180 people.

And I think that number might still be too big: Last time I checked, the PI was attracting some 2.6 million unique visitors a month. That’s basically the size of a decent-sized professional blog, which would perhaps have a dozen employees at most–and would also be selling ads to a national audience.

Meanwhile no one has figured out how to generate advertising at any scale from local advertisers. And Seattle’s online dollars that are available have plenty of suitors. Among them the still-extant Seattle Times daily and The Stranger, the city’s well-established alternative weekly.

Again, it looks as if Hearst has diminished expectations here, too. Check out the pay package it offered a prospective hire, via the PI:

“He said the offer increased his health insurance cost, cut his salary by an unspecified amount, offered to match his 401(k) contributions, required him to forgo his P-I severance pay, reduced his vacation accrual to zero and required him to give up overtime.”

But hey, better a lousy job than no job at all, right? Not according the PI reporter cited above. He says he turned down Hearst’s offer.

Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work