P-I Employees Bracing For Paper's Shutdown
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
SEATTLE -- On Wednesday, employees of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper learned how to file for unemployment after the paper shuts down.
Though the paper is still up for sale and it's possible that someone could buy it, the closure of the paper is increasingly likely. Dan Raley wasn't scheduled to work Wednesday, but the longtime sports columnist was at the P-I building anyway for a meeting he said he didn't want to attend.
"I'm here for an unemployment benefits meeting, something I can't imagine I'd ever be doing," said Raley.
After 30 years at the paper, Raley and other P-I employees are facing the likelihood they'll soon be out of work.
"It's just like being on death row. It's not fun, it's not encouraging, but a lot of people are going through this so it's not like we feel alone," said Raley.
There is still an effort to save the P-I, but Phil Talmadge of the Committee for a Two Newspaper Town said time is running out.
"The Hearst Corporation has said it was going to close the print version of the P-I for sure," said Talmadge.
Employees said the best hope is that the Hearst Corporation will keep some kind of online version of the paper, with a diminished staff.
Hearst has not committed to anything, and fueling the meltdown of print journalism in Seattle is the fact that the Seattle Times is also in a financial crisis.
"The fear that all of us have on the committee is that we could see Seattle as not a two newspaper town but as a one newspaper town," said Talmadge.
P-I employee Kery Murakami said all he ever wanted to be was a newspaper reporter.
"I think the hardest part is that for a lot of us, we're looking at the end of our careers because there's no jobs in newspapers anywhere," said Murakami.
After 9 years at the P-I, Murakami is facing both the loss of a job and a childhood dream.
"There's a very good possibility that my last story here will be the last story I ever write," said Murakami.
There will be a panel and town hall discussion on the subject of the P-I on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Seattle City Hall. For more information, see http://www.nonewsisbadnews.org/.