We know the news
hasn't been good for the Seattle Times folks of late, or for their soon-to-be
ex-colleagues at the Blethen Maine Newspapers (the Press Herald/Sunday
Telegram, Kennebec Journal, and Morning Sentinel).
It's been bad for a
while, but it just got even worse. Sure, we told you back in August 2006 that
the Press Herald would soon be for sale, and we told you (20 minutes before the
Press Herald's own Web site told you) when that became official company policy
on St. Patrick's Day. And we mentioned the coverage of that announcement, as well as some thoughts on who might buy the papers.
We told you in August
2007 that the Press Herald had lost 27 percent of its advertising revenue in
the previous two-and-a-half years.
In October 2007, we
explored how "convergence" and multimedia journalism were being done
at the Press Herald (or rather, not done; we can now add to that failure the
elimination earlier this month of the job of "Online Reporter" held
by Dieter Bradbury).
In December 2007, we
revealed that an alert Phoenix reader told the world something the Press Herald
brass hadn't - that Plum Creek CEO Rick Holley was a personal friend of Frank
Blethen and a member of the family-dominated corporate board that oversees the
We told you in early
January that Frank Blethen had predicted that 2008 would be a terrible year requiring "deep cuts" for the company.
And we told you a couple weeks ago that the layoffs had begun.
In February, we
explained how Press Herald editor Jeannine Guttman failed to understand the
results of a Pew Research Center report on what kinds of news interest men and
women - and that men and women are very interested, at roughly equal levels, in
breaking news and important issues of the day. She spent most of her time
talking about how the paper offers NASCAR news and recipes to combine into one
publication so many niche-market topics that you could almost call the Press
Herald a niche sausage.
And earlier this
month, I wrote about a blogger determined to draw attention to the Press
Herald's journalistic shortcomings (a blogger who just today wrote in a posting
that he is depressed about the paper's future prospects, and said he is "done
wasting energy" on "the Seattle Blethens and their local
minions;" what that means for future posts is unclear).
But now comes even
worse news, from Seattle, via Crosscut and its intrepid reporter Bill Richards,
who has worked for the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and has
covered the Blethens for many years: Not only are print-ad revenues down, but
they're down more than the Blethens expected. And online-ad revenues are also
down, which suggests the Blethens' plans for future profits may be shrinking.
So however long they
have to wait before they can unload the Maine papers, another question lingers
for the Blethens - one certainly closer to their hearts: how long can they hang
onto the Seattle Times, their family's flagship paper, before it collapses?