Where are former Seattle PI reporters now?

Jan 5, 2011

Reporter Ruth Teichroeb has been keeping tabs on her former Seattle PI co-workers since she and 140 colleagues lost their jobs after the Hearst Corporation shuttered print operations.  Did they find new work? If so, were those journalism jobs?

Teichroeb has conducted two surveys: the first one six months after the PI's March 2009 demise, the second over the past few weeks. Here are the results she reports on her personal blog Safety Net. They are collated from a total of 82 responses:

  • Half the respondents have found full-time work
  • Half of those working full-time are working journalists
  • A quarter of them created jobs for themselves, either part-time or full-time
  • A fifth of respondents are unemployed, receiving benefits
  • Nine went back to school
  • Two people retired

Teichroeb published excerpts from responses to her survey, including one from Tom Paulson, of KPLU's global health blog Humanosphere, who told her:

Life has been a roller coaster. After spending more than a year freelancing and on unemployment, I'm working again in media -- new media, social media. It's interesting to learn new skills and be inside the revolution. But I remain saddened and concerned about what the demise of the P-I and so many other newspapers means for journalism. I'm not sure the public fully appreciates what's been lost and what has yet to replace it.

What's the value of compiling these responses and related statistics? Teichroeb wanted to know if her colleagues were moving on with their lives and careers, but also consider a greater intangible:

We are moving on, some faster than others. But many still wonder: How do you measure what's missing when stories go untold? Or when those with power and money operate with less scrutiny? Or when reporters who once filed public disclosure requests and uncovered corruption now earn a living writing press releases?

The results of Teichroeb's survey were reported by blogger Roy Greenslade of The Guardian, in the U.K. Greenslade's outside-Seattle scrutiny of the 'one-newspaper town' landscape contends the online PI is a valuable news resource, and should not be overlooked:

For all the hand-wringing about the past pleasures of print, and the understandable grief of those pitched out of their jobs, all is not lost for the people of Seattle.

What do you think?

How did the loss of the PI print edition change your news consuming habits? Or did they change at all? Share your comments with us here.

Editor's note: KPLU sports commentator and former PI sports columnist Art Thiel remained with the online edition when print operations were shut down. Recently Thiel co-founded the online site Sportspress Northwest