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Hearst Plans Online-Only Version Of Seattle P-I; Makes Offers To Staff On It

This story was written by Rafat Ali.
The newspaper division of Hearst, one of the most troubled in the country, is in the middle of its "100 days of change", as we have reported before, and is now taking steps on the inevitable for its Seattle paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It has made offers to some staffers to participate in an online-only version of the newspaper, the P-I reported on its website late last night. This means P-I is ditching the paper version, as it had warned before. No word yet on when the final edition of the paper will be, but signs points to maybe by next week. Hearst says it lost $14 million last year on the P-I. It has a weekday circulation of 117K, according to ABC. The P-I was founded as the Seattle Gazette in 1863, and Hearst has owned it since 1921.

The Christian Science Monitor has announced its plunge already with an online daily and print weekly, but is on a different scale. Hearst's experiment will be among the first such for a metropolitan city this size in U.S.  The company also said last month that it may close its San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, unless it can figure out massive costs cuts within and with the unions.

Likely the staff size will be much smaller, with all the print inefficiencies weeded out. An unspecified number of the P-I's 181 employees received "provisional offers" this week to work on the site, and the plan is subject to approval by Hearst's senior management. No word on whether it will charge for the online content, something it has been actively considering of late.

By Rafat Ali

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