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Seattle closer to being a one-newspaper city

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by beansbaxter, Jun 30, 2005.

  1. P-I Dealt Blow in Seattle Times Legal Spat

    The state Supreme Court on Thursday dealt The Seattle Times a major victory in its efforts to end a joint operating agreement with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer — a ruling that could lead to the P-I's closure, though more legal battles remain.

    "We recognize this day is not a happy day in the ongoing story of Seattle as a two-newspaper town," the high court ruled in its unanimous decision, written by Justice Tom Chambers. "We genuinely hope that both the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I will continue to serve our communities and prosper."

    The Times has been trying to get out of the agreement with the P-I's parent company, The Hearst Corp., since April 2003, saying the agreement is no longer profitable because of changes in the market. The Times seeks to invoke a clause in the contract that allows either paper to end the agreement if it suffers three consecutive years of losses.

    Hearst argued that the Times shouldn't be allowed to count losses caused by extraordinary events, such as the 49-day strike against both dailies in late 2000. The Times argues that under the language in the contract, no such exception exists, and the court agreed.

    "By the plain terms of the agreement, labor costs, including those occasioned by strikes, are 'agency expenses' under the terms of the contract," the court wrote. "The Times may use those 'agency expenses' to calculate 'agency revenues' for application of the loss operations clause, which permits either party the right to terminate the agreement after three consecutive years of losses."

    In February, the high court heard arguments from the Post-Intelligencer attorneys, who argued the paper would collapse without the agreement.

    Last year, a three-judge state Court of Appeals panel unanimously ruled that The Times could count strike-related losses in seeking to end the JOA, which has been in place since 1983. Hearst has said the P-I can't survive without it, because it lacks staffing and facilities for key business functions, including printing.

    "It is our hope that the Hearst Corporation will join The Times in modifying the JOA contract to reflect today's difficult newspaper economics so that The Times has a fair chance to become profitable again," said Times publisher Frank Blethen. "A return to profitability will enable The Times to remain locally owned and focused on quality, independent journalism for our city and our region."

    Under the agreement, The Times — owned by the Blethen family with a minority share held by Knight Ridder — handles printing, distribution and advertising at both papers in exchange for 60 percent of their joint revenues.

    The Times said it suffered financial losses under the agreement in three consecutive years — 2000, 2001 and 2002 — thus triggering an 18-month period during which The Times and the P-I could negotiate the P-I's closure.

    But Hearst sued, arguing that the strike was an extraordinary event, and could not be counted toward three consecutive years of losses. A King County Superior Court judge agreed with that argument in 2003, but the state Court of Appeals reversed that ruling last year.

    Hearst lawyer Kelly Corr said the P-I would continue to fight the Times' efforts by arguing that the Times' deliberately lost money so that it could seek to end the agreement.

    "After the strike years, the Times spent money like a drunken sailor to manufacture that magical third year of loss," Corr said. "We're going to closely examine the losses from 2000 and 2001 aside from the strike as well."

    But Stephen Barnett, a newspaper antitrust-law expert at the University of California-Berkeley, said that the odds are against Hearst.

    "It looks like bad news for the JOA," Barnett said. "As in any marriage, if one party wants out, the union is unlikely to last very long, whatever a court may say."

    JOAs are an exception to federal antitrust law that are allowed by the Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970. The law was designed to maintain multiple editorial voices in markets that might not otherwise support more than one major newspaper.

    The court, while expressing hope that both papers would remain, argued that it couldn't change the contract based on the desire to keep Seattle a two-newspaper town.

    "Because only the Times' interpretation of the JOA is reasonable, the strong public policy favoring the maintenance of diverse reportorial and editorial voices in the same community cannot be a basis to rewrite the contract," the ruling said.

    "Obviously, this ruling means there's a greater likelihood there will be one newspaper in Seattle," said Phil Talmadge, co-chairman of the Committee for a Two-Newspaper Town, a citizens group that intervened in the case. "Every ruling that seems to press in the direction of having just one remain is disappointing to us."

    Barnett argued that the end of the JOA doesn't necessarily mean the end of the P-I.

    "If Seattle can really support two papers as Hearst claims, then Hearst has deep enough pockets to produce the P-I outside the JOA," he said. "If Hearst itself is not going to publish the P-I, it owes it to the people of Seattle to find someone who will."
  2. The PI is just a liberal rag with mediocre run of the mill conformist reporting and the Times is a family owned and run paper with lots of local reporting, by comparison.

    The ultimate truth is that print media has seen it's day and that's a good thing for conserving trees as well as getting a variety of viewpoints.. online!

  3. One thing that is sad; It makes no sense for the P-I to tank as its best to have dissenting views carried in multiple mediums. So often we isolate our information to one source, where we lose other perspectives (no matter how liberal or conservative they may be). These outside perspectives have the ability to at least make us think about our actual standing on an issue, instead of being fed the bullshit the current administration wants us to hear and follow in lock step. I listen to just as much conservative radio as liberal, I read both right and left wing op-ed pieces, I like to know both sides of an issue before I make my decision on it (which still errs left, as its the side that deals most with truly taking care of people, each individual).

    Very sad to see a separate set of views go away.

  4. USE DA WWW MAN! :evil4: You can learn more facts and insights in 15 minutes on the web, at the right sites, than you could reading rag papers and listening to "controlled" talk radio!

    From your local Libertarian Rebel :evil4:
  5. If I only knew how to read :oops:

    ps. my mom types all my stuff.
  6. One simple reason... corroberation. Yes, the internet is a fantastic media, esp in the blogging and how stories are hitting more frequently due to small time investigation. BUT.... I like to utilize multiple sources of information, and newspapers have a specific ability to reach more people more regularly than the internet. Most are not power users and do not know how to gain the information the papers dispense. Not to mention having a newspaper research a story originally found on the net could turn up more information, different info, or completely disprove a net based story. One must keep all options, opinions, and views in mind to be truly informed.

    Not to mention, talk radio can produce news faster than any other medium...

    Why the anti-government sentiment?

  7. Because my liberties ar vanishing faster than free beer at a frat house party, and I'm a constitutionalist rebel :evil: I even have my own A-Wing :mrgreen:

    As to news dissemination, newspapers are losing readership every year.. the Seattle-PI has a circulation of about 100,000 now, and steadily shrinking. There are so many news sites on line from to , to and hundreds of others that you can definitely cross-reference info these days, without the media bias.. 7 powerful families own about 90% of the print and broadcast media in the USA today. I'm tuning them out.. because their agenda is not mine.
  8. I agree with the statement that readership is down, etc etc etc. But Jeff Rense isnt what I would consider a news source either! His conspiracy theories are second only to Art Bell. Theres definitely a ton of information out there, but noe must always read through biases (including rense) to get the truth. Try as well as

  9. rense is just a place to get you thinking.. some of the conspiracies are right on the mark, such as the centuries-old plan for a "new world order" by ultra wealthy Fabian socialists based in Britian and Europe. This plan requires elimination of our way of life and the US constitution/bill of rights as we know it. As long as we have rights and are armed as a civilian populace they cannot have their way with us. Most other countries such as Canada and Great Britian are already conforming to this plan, making their "citizens" into subjects/serfs. US republirats (that's both major parties) are in on it for their own personal profit/power, and are attempting to make us conform, as well.

    The "mad cow" stuff on rense is mostly on the mark, too..

    Many other "conspiracies" there are pretty whacky.. I have the understanding and do the research to sift through it..