June 01, 2003
Times vs. P-I

Here in Seattle, we have two major daily newspapers—The Seattle Times, controlled by a local family (with a substantial holding by Knight-Ridder), and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, owned by Hearst Newspapers. As in most cities with competing major newspapers, they operate under a Joint Operating Agreement (under which costs for production and distribution are shared, as are profits). The Times has been steadily gaining a lead on the Post-Intelligencer, due to the perception by most Seattleites that it is a better paper. However, they claim they are losing money, and have filed a petition to dissolve the JOA. The P-I cried foul, and filed a lawsuit to "stop the clock" on the dissolution process. They claim that the Blethen family is trying to destroy the P-I, as almost all of the production facilities are owned by the Times, and most of the shared staff are Times employees.

I have followed the process in the local papers, but with a jaundiced eye, as both papers seem to be spinning the story to their advantage. However, an article in Editor and Publisher covers the story from a neutral standpoint, and discusses six possible outcomes.

This article is an interesting read, if only for the reason that the Seattle JOA was considered one of the best, and most stable, JOA's. It provides an interesting take on one of journalism's lesser-known aspects, cooperation in place of cutthroat competition.

posted on June 01, 2003 08:17 PM


Here in Houston, a much bigger city that Seattle, we have just one major paper. However, it's poor local coverage is resulting in disinterest in any local news (USA Today) and growing flight to the Spanish dailies.

posted by Laurence Simon on June 2, 2003 08:34 AM

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