Today is the official last deadline for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The oldest continually operating business in Seattle, the P.I. was a victim of the new Internet-based news economy.
Seattle P.I.’s sad last few months are nearly always describes in this way. “Continuous operation” is why it is important. “Internet-based news economy” (or something similar) is why it went under. But I wonder about the phrase “continually operating”. The very name of the paper implies a history of turn-over, mergers, and buyouts (P.I. was part of the Hearst family)
That phrase makes me think of a story from Terry Pratchett’s The Fifth Elephant, told to Samuel Vimes by the Dwarf Dwarf King Rhys Rhysson:
This, milord, is my family’s axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y’know. Pretty good.
P.I. will be moving onto a new online format; this could be seen as just a new handle, or new ornamentation. But it seems from the Stranger’s coverage, it is a much sadder occasion than that. Perhaps the old axe-head is being melted down, to be used as a shovel or belt-buckles. It will still be in use, but it will no longer be my grandfather’s axe.
Goodbye P.I. See you in your next incarnation.
If you try to please audiences, uncritically accepting their tastes, it can only mean that you have no respect for them: that you simply want to collect their money.–Andrei Tarkovsky