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Posts tagged as “Seattle”

The Peoria plan

Nick Licata

Nick Licata

In this time of weakening newspapers, as lots of people start looking for alternative models, the situation has gotten so serious that public officials are holding public meetings on the subject of "who will report the news?"

Specifically, in Seattle, where one daily newspaper - the Post-Intelligencer - is near certain to end printing and may or may not remain in some online form, and the other - the Times - is also in perilous financial shape. It's where tomorrow Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata will convene a council Culture, Civil Rights, Health, and Personnel Committee meeting, and devote most of it to "a panel discussion about the importance of maintaining diverse media outlets, the future of daily newspapers, and the potential roles and responsibilities that a community can take to keep public discourse healthy and thriving." (It is supposed to be streamed.)

That's noteworthy right there, since it means the search for news alternatives in the Northwest now has its first substantial public elected official taking point.

The meeting already seems to have had one effect at least: Discussion of what's being called the Peoria Plan. A piece today in the site Crosscut describes it: In Peoria, Illinois, where the daily paper also is in serious trouble, there's talk about creating and using a new type of business structure to encourage news operations.

This blog generally has become increasingly wary of new business structures, but if limited and defined properly this one, called the LC3, has com promise. It's described as a hybrid, with some allowance for limited profits, but also some status as a charity, making possible tax-deductible contributions, which could allow some newspapers to become something akin to non-profits (a term which is in itself a term of art).

The Crosscut piece is worth reading. And the meeting tomorrow should be worth watching.

Circuit City closes

A big story nationally - there being 567 big-box stores involved - but notable in the Northwest: Circuit City said today it is shuttering all its stores in the United States (though, for some reason, not in Canada). Jobs lost: About 30,000. The company has been in bankruptcy proceedings since November.

CC is a big retailer in the Pacific Northwest. It has nine stores in the Seattle-Tacoma area, one at Bellingham, two around Spokane, one at Richland, five at Portland, two at Salem, one at Springfield, one at Medford, two at Boise, one at Idaho Falls (Ammon) - 25 big stores in the region, employing a whole lot of people. Or, did employ.

On the consumer level, this has a notable impact in some of the smaller metros; Boise, Bellingham, the Tri-Cities and Idaho Falls will have relatively limited choices at this point for consumer electronics.

Goodbye, P-I?

pi

Post-Intelligencer flag

UPDATE The bad rumors have turned real. This just in: "The Seattle P-I is being put up for sale, and if after 60 days it has not sold, it will either be turned into a Web-only publication or discontinued entirely. 'One thing is clear: at the end of the sale process, we do not see ourselves publishing in print,' said Steven Swartz, president of the Hearst Corp.'s newspaper division. Swartz addressed the P-I's newsroom at about noon Friday, flanked by P-I editor and publisher Roger Oglesby and Lincoln Millstein, Hearst's senior vice president for digital media."

UPDATE 2 The corporate letter on the situation.

Last night, when KING-TV reported that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was about to be put up for sale - as necessary legal prologue to closing it in a month or so - our reaction was caution. The story apparently had a single unnamed source, and everyone quoted by name, at the P-I and the Times, said they knew nothing of a planned sale.

That doesn't mean the report wasn't credible - metro papers all over the country are in this kind of position, and if a sale/closure isn't being mapped out now, it's probably not far off.

Midday today, the story is looking more likely because of the response, when finally elicited, from the publisher (Roger Oglesby) of the P-I: "There's nothing I can tell you now. I will call you later today."

Uh oh.

The Northwest hasn't lost many daily papers in the last few years: after, of course, a long stretch when the numerous multi-paper cities slid to one apiece. (The last lost was the east-King County paper based at Bellevue, a couple of years back.) The loss of the P-I means the last city in the Northwest with two general-interest daily newspapers will have just one. (more…)

Seattle: About to rumble?

Greg Nickels

Greg Nickels

When Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels was first elected to that job in 2001, the campaigning was tough. First there was the matter of outpolling a sitting mayor, Paul Schell (and dispatching of a bunch of sliver candidates), but that turned out to be the easier part. In the runoff with City Attorney Mark Sidran (just recently cycled off the state utilities commission), it's easy to forget now that Sidran raised and spent far more money, probably had a broader range of support, and got most of the media endorsements. In the runoff, Nickels won with 50.1% of the vote, likely the closest major race in Washington until the governor's contest three years later.

It's a sign of how readily office holders can establish themselves - and Nickels did, forcefully - that re-election in 2005 was an easy walk, not a run, prevailing with a 29% lead over his nearest opponent. And there's some thought that this year - and Nickels evidently will seek a third term - may be more of the same, as demonstrated in the decision by City Council President Richard Conlin not to run for the job.

And yet it's not that simple. Over at Crosscut, editor David Brewster makes a persuasive argument that this election still may turn into a snorter. Odds favor his case.

The key point is Nickels' favorability ratings in the polls, which long had held to a generally sound level but in recent months have taken a serious hit. The recent no-road-salt dispute in the city - the decision not to salt snowy Seattle roads, a decision later apparently reversed - may have been a contributing factor in Nickels' 28% favorables in one recent poll. Such a low number likely will rebound, at least somewhat. Even so, some core vulnerability is evident. (more…)