Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Say Goodbye to the P-I

As has been widely reported, today is the last print edition of Seattle's oldest newspaper, the Post-Intelligencer. While they plan on continuing with an online-only version, the hard copy, the tangible, physical version is going away for good.

I believe I've shared some of my connection with the P-I here already. But to those who missed it. . .

My grandfather worked for the P-I for 39 years. His whole career, the job by which he supported my grandmother and their children, the money he earned so that he could treat us grandkids to ice cream or camping trips - it came through the P-I.

My first real job was with the P-I, delivering papers every morning through junior high and high school. Those memories are still important to me; the early morning walks through rain or sun, the virgin snowfalls, the sunrise over Lake Washington, the birds singing in spring as the sky began to lighten, the crisp starlight on cold winter mornings. The sights, sounds, and smells of those mornings stay with me to this day. And that paper route bought me my first personal radio, my first music tapes, it bought clothes and books and new stuff for the model railroad in the basement. It even gave me spending money when I went off to college. So the P-I was good to me.

We made it in the P-I a couple of times - from the day my brother arrived on the plane from Korea (an article complete with family portrait), to the edition where I was featured as "carrier of the month," to a full-page ad with my brother's face at the top (he took over the route when I gave it up).

In my garage I have a box with mementos from important occasions. In it I have P-I clippings going back to the Seattle Supersonics' NBA championship, I have articles from the day after Ronald Reagan was shot; there are clippings from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, as well as the day the Challenger exploded in the Florida sky.

And the P-I website was important over the years, as well. Once this internet thing really caught on, I visited the P-I's site to stay in touch with all that was happening in my hometown. Through the years in Gresham and Turlock, I visited the P-I online most every day, reading the articles and sharing in the online forums.

I guess I could admit to being a part of the ultimate demise of the P-I, since I was among the masses who chose to receive my news for free online, rather than paying for it. . .but at least we have an excuse, living so far in the outerlands that I'm not sure we could get the paper delivered even if we tried. Still, I often picked up a copy when we were in town, and any visit to mom and dad's wouldn't be the same without sitting down and reading through their edition of the paper. So it will be missed.

Here's hoping that in years to come we'll look back and see that this wasn't really a death, but the necessary change that led them into the forefront of local web-based news. I'm hopeful I can still log in every morning and catch the local news, sports, and weather. The fear is that Hearst will use their national connections and turn the P-I into a space for national entertainment gossip, fashion news, and all that other stuff people want in spite of its utter worthlessness. But perhaps they will be wiser, and continue to connect us all with important local happenings.

In the meantime, thanks, P-I, for delivering all the great content over the years, thanks for the years of paychecks that filtered into my family, thanks for being a local icon. And cheers to a great future.

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