Tag Archives: seattlepi

Farewell, P-I

Athima Chansanchai

Athima Chansanchai was a reporter with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer until the newspaper published its last edition March 17, 2009. She is currently working on freelance and consulting assignments. She is a graduate of AAJA’s Executive Leadership Program and serves as a representative of the AAJA Seattle Chapter on the National Advisory Board.

She submitted the following essay to AAJA national within days after the P-I closed.

The death of my newspaper, the death of my mother

We put the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to rest a week ago. The newspaper managed to survive for 146 years. I am mourning the loss along with my 170 or so colleagues who also worked there, and the city we served.

I have known for months this would probably happen. As a Buddhist, I was raised to believe nothing lasts forever.

Now that the end has come, I am grappling with the challenge of rebuilding my life without something that was dear to me.

I moved across country four years ago to work at the P-I and I loved every moment of it — almost. I was encouraged to be creative in my writing, to be dogged in my reporting, and to find new ways to use technology to reach readers. This was a writer’s paper. I became a blogger.

The death of a newspaper is hardly the same as the death of a person. But as I reflect on my experience at the P-I and the emotions it brings out in me, I find myself drawing on some of the final lessons my mother taught me last year before she lost her last battle with cancer.

In some ways, I see parallels between these two losses. From the time of her final prognosis to her death, it was about two months. From the time Hearst announced the sale of the P-I to the last print edition, it was about two months.

But in many ways, the P-I – like my mom – will always be with me.

My mother taught me the value of diversity and working at places like the P-I reinforced that value. The paper employed nearly 20 journalists of color, including two national officers of the Asian American Journalists Association. I am one of them. It was a place that treated people well — like family. I heard about how P-I management welcomed back employees who had gone out on strike. Later as an active Newspaper Guild member and a member of two negotiating teams, I saw first hand how civility ruled in the outcome of contract and severance talks.

The P-I was a place where I felt appreciated.

It took me a while to find a workplace where I was as comfortable as I was at the P-I. I went to high school in Florida and I earned a degree in history and East Asian studies from Oberlin College, and a master’s degree at Stanford University. I left California without a job. I found one in New York, where I worked at the Village Voice. A couple years later, I moved to Baltimore, where I became a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. I was there for 5 years, and left to come to the P-I in 2005. I worked first on the news side before finding a home in features.

Until the P-I closed, I was invested in its success, and the success of Seattle. I hope for the best for my colleagues who remain with seattlepi.comam and I am still invested in the city’s success. I bought my first home here — a home my mother thought suited me. She also liked that I was so much closer to her home in northern California.

In October, my mother died.

My mom, a physician and lifelong newspaper reader who subscribed to three daily newspapers, imbedded in me the value of being informed by fair and accurate coverage. This would be an ongoing theme in my life, especially with the mission of AAJA. She gave me my curious nature and passed on her appreciation for public service and good writing — even though English was not her first language. She also instilled in me drive and determination — especially when it came to the nobility of purpose in a profession. It was interesting that she as a healer and I as a journalist would both hold high the ideals of comforting the afflicted.

Taking care of her in her last 2 months of her life I did things I never did before: I learned how to test blood sugar and inject insulin, administered several medications on a schedule and re-taught my mother how to swallow water. It was painful for me and my family to watch her wither away.

It was painful watching the P-I die too.

And now I’m doing other things I never thought I’d have to do, like applying for unemployment and counseling colleagues and friends who haven’t had to submit a resume in decades.

At the same time, when my mom died, there was – as there is now with the end of the P-I — a sense of relief, liberation and release after months, then days, of uncertainty.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I miss my mom. I had to learn to live without her.

But she taught me not to be afraid of the unknown. She taught me to believe in myself. Caring for her those last two months of her life taught me that the best parts of her will always live on in me, that nothing can take those memories away. She gave me her thoughts in scrapbooks she made, stories she told, e-mails and letters. The P-I’s family and training stays with me the same way: in stories and meetings, in writing coaching sessions and the freedom of writing features that took me all over Seattle. Nothing can take those experiences — or friendships — away from me.

I will have to learn to live without my P-I, too, but thanks to my mom, I know it too will live on in me and my former co-workers.

Posted in Members, News | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Farewell, P-I

AAJA Seattle, SABJ issue joint statement on the P-I

Posted on by sbhatt


published Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The boards of the Seattle Association of Black Journalists (SABJ) and the Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) express great sadness over The Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s demise after more than 145 years. We applaud the dedication and contributions of the P-I’s journalists and support staff who have served the community.

With today being the P-I’s last print edition, the community is losing the benefit of two competing, award-winning daily newspapers and the talents of more than 160 news professionals. After years of efforts to increase the diversity of city newsrooms so they come closer to reflecting the communities they serve, we mourn the fact that a dozen journalists of color at the P-I will be laid off and likely unable to find similar work in journalism, a troubling trend being repeated across the country as newsrooms downsize.

The Seattle P-I has been a place where journalists of color have honed their skills, built their careers and won professional honors. It has also been a place where some of the country’s top journalists mentored minority students. And the newspaper has offered members of AAJA and SABJ a chance to develop as industry leaders: Two of AAJA’s National officers are among those who are losing their jobs. We appreciate that the staff of the P-I’s online site will include some journalists of color.

Let us also remember that other newspapers could meet the P-I’s fate if current trends continue unchecked. Nationwide, more than 50 daily and weekly newspapers this year have shut down or announced they will soon, and some 33 newspapers have filed for bankruptcy. Newspapers laid off some 15,000 people last year. Major metro newspapers still field the maximum number of news professionals, and their scoops often influence the reports of radio, television and online news outlets — which tend to be even less diverse than newspaper newsrooms.

As Princeton professor Paul Starr recently wrote in The New Republic, “If we take seriously the notion of newspapers as a fourth estate or a fourth branch of government, the end of the age of newspapers implies a change in our political system itself. Newspapers have helped to control corrupt tendencies in both government and business. If we are to avoid a new era of corruption, we are going to have to summon that power in other ways.”

The same day we learned the P-I would print its final edition, The McClatchy Co., which owns The Tacoma News Tribune and The Olympian, announced across-the-board pay cuts and a total of 45 layoffs. And The Seattle Times is fighting for its life, having recently put up property for sale, laid off news staff and asked employees for cuts in pay and benefits.

Both SABJ and AAJA challenge Hearst, McClatchy, The Seattle Times and all other Pacific Northwest media organizations to ensure that diversity remains a core value in their news staffing and through their coverage. We also welcome the civic-mindedness and creativity of this region’s residents in supporting new, sustainable forms of journalism. We will continue to support our members during this difficult time.

We thank The Seattle Post-Intelligencer for a job well done.



The Seattle Association of Black Journalists (SABJ) is one of the largest and oldest media organizations in the Pacific Northwest. Our members work in print, online media, radio, television, public relations, advertising, and education. SABJ student members benefit from mentoring, networking and scholarship opportunities. We offer the Patricia Fisher Endowed Scholarship in honor of Patricia Fisher, a Puget Sound native, journalist, educator and role model for her support of young people and her contributions to the community. SABJ is an affiliate chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), a group of more than 3,000 African Americans working in the media.

Since 1985, the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Seattle chapter has provided scholarships for students, professional development for journalists and service to the community in the Pacific Northwest. The chapter’s members work throughout Washington state in print, television, radio and online media. AAJA is a non-profit professional organization based in San Francisco.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on AAJA Seattle, SABJ issue joint statement on the P-I

AAJA Seattle reaches out to Seattle P-I staff

Posted on by sbhatt

The Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is ramping up its outreach to journalists at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which Hearst Corp. plans to stop publishing this month. The chapter’s leadership wants to support all journalists during these hard economic times for our profession.

The chapter welcomes your suggestions. To date, your chapter has undertaken several initiatives:
* Public statement on Hearst’s plan to stop publishing the Seattle P-I.
* Choppy Waters workshop on Web News Entrepreneurship, Jan. 31, at the University of Washington.
* Lunar New Year fundraiser, Feb. 7, at the Wing Luke Asian Museum.
* Reboot Your Career workshop on revamping your resume and positioning yourself for a new job, March 13. The chapter is still accepting applications for this members-only workshop.

Send your ideas for programs and workshops to aajaseattle@gmail.com.


Sanjay Bhatt
AAJA Seattle Co-President
Reporter, The Seattle Times

Posted in News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on AAJA Seattle reaches out to Seattle P-I staff

AAJA Seattle issues statement on Hearst announcement

The board of the Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) expresses its shock and sadness over last week’s announcement that Hearst Corp. has put the Seattle Post-Intelligencer up for sale and plans to shut it down if no deal is struck. This is a loss for the Pacific Northwest and diversity in journalism.

The presence of two competing, award-winning daily newspapers has given this region more intense reportage of local issues, diverse communities and government actions than it would have had otherwise.

The P-I also has been a key supporter of AAJA’s mission by offering talented journalists of color a place to hone their craft and become leaders in the profession – as well as leaders in AAJA. Hearst and P-I staff have donated resources over the years to support AAJA Seattle’s Northwest Journalists of Color (NJC) scholarship, Lunar New Year banquet, and professional development programs.

We recognize that Hearst, a for-profit business, could not turn a blind eye to its financial losses. Several of the nation’s newspaper owners have put their properties up for sale or declared bankruptcy. The business challenges are real, and fresh ideas are urgently needed.

We encourage Hearst to seek a buyer who is committed to quality journalism and newsroom diversity. And we encourage the community to engage in a broader dialogue about the future of diversity in local journalism.


Since 1985, AAJA’s Seattle chapter has provided scholarships for students, professional development for journalists and service to the community in the Pacific Northwest. The chapter’s members work throughout Washington state in print, television, radio and online media. AAJA is a non-profit professional organization based in San Francisco. Learn more about the Seattle chapter by going to aajaseattle.org.

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on AAJA Seattle issues statement on Hearst announcement

TechFlash: 10 steps to save the P-I and the rest of the industry

TechFlash’s Todd Bishop, a former reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, tonight posted a prescription for saving the P-I. Check it out, as well as the comments. The back-and-forth, interestingly, is possible only online, not in a printed product. Do you agree with Todd’s prescription?

Posted in News | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on TechFlash: 10 steps to save the P-I and the rest of the industry