There’s a lot of mourning going on throughout the city today. And a lot of us are writing, blogging, tweeting, FBing about it. Forgive us if you don’t quite understand. The death of the Seattle P-I – the newspaper – hits home for many of us, even those of us who knew the bylines better than the faces and personalities behind them.
We – and by we I mean the journalists at the Seattle Times (until last May my home for 14 years) – have a strong emotional connection to the Seattle P-I. Some have spouses/better halves over there. Some worked there. I have never set foot in the P-I newsroom although I sure was curious about it. But I feel a connection to the paper and its reporters/photographers because I was lucky enough to have them in my orbit whenever I covered a beat.
Ours was a terrific rivalry that I cherish. The competition made me stronger. The competition was fun. The competition got me up in the morning and made me stay late at night at The Seattle Times newsroom, obsessing over every little word. You could argue most people work hard when they’ve got a job they love. That’s true. But I believe the Seattle Times newsroom worked hard at jobs they loved AND worked hard because they wanted to kick butt. We sometimes did. And sometimes we did not. But man, was it a high!
As a former newspaper person I know how incredible a newsroom can be. Our home away from home. We spend so much damn time there we often had work spouses who knew us better than our marital ones. And if you’re lucky enough to have worked in a newsroom long enough, in a city that’s lucky enough to have a lot of fine newsrooms, you grow quite attached to your journalism colleagues.
Which is why we’re all talking and blogging and writing about the P-I. It’s how we process things. Journalists are trained to obsess over their stories. So here’s a story, a big one, in our own extended family, and we’re processing it.
When any newsroom dies it hurts. But if you’ve got newspaper blood in you it really hurts to watch a newspaper die. That’s why so many newspaper-folk watched and wept at that wonderful Rocky Mountain News video, and we still talk about it. That’s why we read Eli Sanders. That’s why we went online to watch P-I folks share their own memories. There’s plenty of stuff talking about the industry and the changes that are coming and that’s all fine, critical and (somewhat) interesting. But what we crave, at the moment, is the personal, the emotional, the intimate details of this story from the perspective of our colleagues, unwittingly now the subjects of news stories.
After news broke that today would be the last edition of the printed P-I, Seattle Times reporter Hal Bernton convened a tribute to his crosstown rival (and former employer). Some 50 people showed up yesterday outside the P-I building to pay their respects. I know a lot more Seattle Times people wished they could have been there. I know a lot of ex-Seattle Times people wished they could have been there as well because the P-I matter(ed) and it was worth, one last time, to publicly say so.
So folks stood and hugged and hoped that this wouldn’t happen ever again. A bit of what was said yesterday, from Seattle Timesers Hal Bernton, Bruce Ramsey, Danny Westneat and Yoko Kuramoto-Eidsmoe. (Audio only; sorry, no video)
I woke up way earlier than usual this morning, fretting that I wouldn’t find a P-I. I did, at the PCC, where I also took (or tried to) a couple of photos. Two customers, seconds apart, each walked in and grabbed their P-Is, too.
They could see what I was doing.
But this is the why.