NEW YORK – Hearst Corporation announced that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (P-I) will become the nation’s largest daily newspaper to shift to an entirely digital news product. The announcement was made by Frank A. Bennack, Jr., vice chairman and chief executive officer, Hearst Corporation, and Steven R. Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers. The final print issue of the newspaper will appear tomorrow.
“The P-I has a rich 146-year history of service to the people of the Northwest, which makes the decision to stop publishing the newspaper an extraordinarily difficult one,” Bennack said. “We extend our profound gratitude and admiration to our P-I colleagues who have done such an exemplary job under extremely difficult circumstances over the past several years. Our goal now is to turn seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region.”
“Seattlepi.com isn’t a newspaper online—it’s an effort to craft a new type of digital business with a robust, community news and information Web site at its core,” said Swartz. “It will feature the breaking news reporting of Chris Grygiel and others covering City Hall; Levi Pulkkinen reporting on the court system; popular staff blogs like Seattle 911 with Casey McNerthney and the Big Blog by Monica Guzman; columnists like Joel Connelly, Art Thiel and Jim Moore; and of course, the cartooning and commentary of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey. The Web is first and foremost a community platform, so we’ll be featuring new columns from prominent Seattle residents; more than 150 reader blogs, community data bases and photo galleries. We’ll also be linking to the great work of other Web sites and blogs in the community.”
“On the business side, we are assembling a staff to form a local digital agency that will sell local businesses advertising on seattlepi.com as well as the digital advertising products of our partners: Yahoo! for display advertising, Kaango for general marketplaces and Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask.com for search engine marketing,” Swartz said. “The site will also feature a digital yellow pages directory powered by Hearst’s yellow pages unit, White Directory Publishers.”
On January 9, Hearst announced that it was offering for sale the P-I and its interest in the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) under which the P-I and The Seattle Times are published. No buyers emerged, resulting in the decision to move to an all-digital news model. Additionally, the JOA is being terminated. The P-I was founded in 1863 as the Seattle Gazette.
Seattlepi.com will be led editorially by Michelle Nicolosi, executive producer, who has headed the site since 2005. Nicolosi was previously an investigative reporter at the Seattle P-I. She was also previously the editor of Online Journalism Review (www.ojr.org) and taught journalism at the University of Southern California. Prior to that, Nicolosi was a reporter at the Orange County Register, where she was a lead reporter on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fertility Fraud series.
In January, Nielsen ranked seattlepi.com among the top 30 newspaper Web sites with 1.8 million unique users. The site has an average of 4 million unique monthly visitors, according to internal Hearst tracking.
Hearst Corporation (www.hearst.com) is one of the nation’s largest diversified media companies. Its major interests include ownership of 15 daily and 49 weekly newspapers, including the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Albany Times Union; as well as interests in an additional 43 daily and 72 non-daily newspapers owned by MediaNews Group, which include the Denver Post and Salt Lake Tribune; nearly 200 magazines around the world, including Good Housekeeping, Cosmopolitan and O, The Oprah Magazine; 29 television stations through Hearst-Argyle Television (NYSE:HTV) which reach a combined 18% of U.S. viewers; ownership in leading cable networks, including Lifetime, A&E, History and ESPN; as well as business publishing, including a minority joint venture interest in Fitch Ratings; Internet businesses, television production, newspaper features distribution and real estate.