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Mistah Kurtz - he dead

THE DEATH OF A REAL NEWSMAN IN SEATTLE: I meditate tonight on the truly great people who gave their heart and soul for the Seattle P-I (THE REAL NEWSPAPER!) over my far-too-long career here - like Tom Sellers and Ed Penhale and Lenny Anderson,  Marribeth Morris, Phil Webber and Traynor Hansen and John O'Ryan and Jack Smith and Don Carter and too many living to even begin to name them all in this time and space -- and it is sad to relinquish such spirit to the clowns who dance and prance around our bones, the sound-off junkies and sycophantic philanderers about to usurp the Globe.

Good luck and good riddance to the smug news of narcissistic no consequence. That cannot be the lasting legacy of the P-I, but it is our destiny all the same - sold down the road, cut off without respect or regard, by the very hand that we fed all these years of turmoil and doubt about what the future would hold.

Yes, former P-I readers and current followers of REAL NEWS NETWORK, the future of our old "real" Web home - where we started out as Seattle at Nite and The Big Blog and once fully embraced and fueled so-called new media in all its forms, where we supervised and edited and prodded and cajoled reporters to build something from nothing into an online juggernaut, where we conceived and lobbied for an all-sports blog, a police blog, where this very writer won an award for online blogging - has now been handed over to the chosen few remaining cacklers and pretenders who will give you things like:

More Foxy Knoxy, more Bachelor inside scoops, and American Idol twits and twitterers, more ambulance-chasing gang-banging, head-scratching headlines, more Facebook time and press release praises and gossipy scoops of Amazon and Starbucks and Microsofties and anything that makes most true Seattle readers puke! More fashion galleries and veiled "reader blogs" where fact and fiction and plagiarism and libel and innuendo can all be absolved with a disclaimer or just sheer disdain. Feature material supplied by typing mills. Reporters replaced by hit generators, content providers, facilitators, pawns, groveling for tidbits of jobs that have slashed salaries, reduced benefits, more work, no guarantees. You can always be replaced by another eager clown at any given moment, especially come summer when management brings in bunches of new beaming interns who will work for FREE. Smile, because you'll take lots of photos of yourself and post them so folks can see how cool it is to be a new-age journalist.

While journalism has come to this in some circles,  aims to stand for something far different. As always, our mission is freedom of expression and artistic thought, but we will now offer up our Web site here as an alternative to the company that is about to lay us off.

Instead of announcing their above-board plans to continue a Web site with a staff of only 20 people, the chosen few who will remain at the P-I have chosen to let their scheme leak out with secret meetings and offers behind closed doors. The jobs aren't open for anyone to apply for even though the company plans on ending the jobs of 130 others and there are scores of more-qualified Web-based journalists already looking for work in the area and beyond. Seniority and skill are not even considered, and only a chosen few were even approached and told what possibilities might exist. Was age considered in not offering jobs to older workers? How many ethnic minorities were given opportunities to apply?

Is this how Hearst plans to conduct business in San Francisco, Houston, San Antonio, or any of its remaining newspapers that once made the company what it is - or isn't - to this very day? How can the Justice Department allow a privately held multi-media company that openly flouts the Newspaper Preservation Act to actually kill a newspaper after gutting its unholy partner and leaving both papers all but bankrupt , financially, journalistically, morally?

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpieces filled with straw. Alas!

Our dried voices, when

Whispered together

Are quiet and meaningless

Tonight, as I prepared the very real news budget for the very real newspaper for the thousands of real readers who still pay real money to get their P-I every morning, some of the newer media types were filming themselves living out the last days of the paper and babbling on about Cameron Diaz and her latest photos that were up and posted in an online gallery and what sort of splash to give Sanjaya's new book."He looks so different with his hair cut."

As the copier printed out a budget of real stories that would have to be slashed just to make it into print, I thought of when I once started at the P-I and how we probably would have been debating other things at such a moment - like what the hell the governor was going to do with the biggest fiscal crises faced by the state since the Depression; or why we have a homeless camp that keeps getting run all over the city; or why no one is challenging the mayor at the time Seattle's core seems to be falling apart at the seams; or why the P-I has been reduced to covering the Legislature with interns.

We once fought hard to bring stories like that to the light of real readers night after night after night in the pages of the P-I for over 25 years at REAL NEWS. You can trace it all online if you like and the proof lies there in the truth. Real News will seek a new truth now:

Those who have crossed

With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom

Remember us - if at all - not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men.

-- T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men, 1925

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