Proposal Draft

April 22, 2007 by

The Once and Still Two Newspaper Town:

The Seattle Times and Seattle P-I

Go Forward Despite Differences 


As our group looked at media ownership, the obvious issue of the Seattle Times/P-I joint operating agreement (JOA) came to our minds, particularly as it was expected to play out during our 10-week session in the form of a binding, arbitrated agreement.   Even as the landscape of journalism has changed in the Emerald City, the Times and P-I combine to sell about 350,000 daily papers and more eyeballs find themselves on their websites. 

Our proposal is to look at the competition between these two papers from the perspective of the affected parties – readers, journalists, owners and interested third parties.   Of particular note is the influential Committee for a Two Newspaper Town, co-chaired by trial attorney Anne Bremner and retired Washington State Supreme Court Justice and former state Senator, Phil Talmadge.  We will accomplish this overview of Seattle’s two-newspaper ownership dilemma as follows: 

  1. Interview members of CTNT, people on the street, journalists and communication students at the University of Washington to developa 360-degree view of the issue. 

  2. Describe the origins of the JOA, the nature of the dispute between the two publications that brought Seattle, like most  U.S. cities, to the brink of becoming a single-paper operation. 

  3. Look at the current and future prospects for both papers until the recently revised JOA runs out in 2016 against the background of declining circulation and increased online alternatives.


Project brainstorming

April 20, 2007 by

After reading the Times and P-I articles more closely, I think we are on the right track with trying to get a reaction from the community about what they think of having two newspapers in Seattle. Both papers have quotes only from people in the industry and those who have knowledge of the JOA. I think it would be good to get the perspective of the people who have the most to gain (and the most to lose) from having two newspapers in town: the readers.

We might also ask if readers think something will fill the niche if one of the newspapers closes. For example, will Internet sources be able to take the place of print newspapers? Internet products such as Newsvine and Crosscut have made their mark on the industry, but a lot of their work is still aggregation, rather than original reporting. 

I think a good basis for our project would be to interview a couple people with the Committee for a Two-Newspaper Town. Anne Bremner and Phil Talmadge have been quoted in recent articles. We could use audio and/or video of the interviews as an introduction to the site perhaps. They could offer background on the JOA and how they became involved in the litigation.

Next we could introduce the major players categorized by group: The Seattle Times, The Seattle P-I/Hearst, Committee for a Two-Newspaper Town. It might be cool to have everyone listed in a branching format and then when you mouse over a name it will give a brief description of who they are (this would require Flash I think).

We could also have a “What is the JOA?” section. This might be a good place to put the timeline of the JOA. This would also work well in Flash. There would be a timeline that when you mouse over a part of the timeline it would bring up details. I think this is the best way to actually keep it a timeline that shows the relationships between various dates.

We should also decide who is interested in doing what on the project. I think it would be fun to do the Flash timeline and/or the Flash with the major players (I haven’t used Flash so I may need to just do one of these projects). I also could do some of the interviewing, though my time in Seattle is limited so if someone else wants to work on that I could help with the video/audio editing.


I know we can run comments on these, but since we can all administer, I’m just going to jump in here.

The above outline makes sense and isn’t too far from my initial thinking.  As you know, we need to focus on a minimal text format – sounds/images most important , so this means we need a home page with the basics:

  • The story overview – Two Newspaper Town  (I like your idea for that – clever)
  • Subheads:  Timeline, JOA, TNT Committee, Commentaries, maybe alternative media
  • Who we are:  KKS, KSK or SKK productions *-)

After this, we get down to the details of what type of layout we’ll use, along with various visual IO.  I think it’s important for us to get to yes on how many pages, what’s on them and then divide up the work.

I am available to do some Seattle interview support and can either get stills or video of the P-I/Times exteriors.  I think it may be difficult to do an onsite interview with Talmadge, and possibly Bremner so, as you suggest, if we can pull some interview MP3, mpeg or whatever sound/video files on that, great.

I also think that since an area of focus for the extended JOA is the possibility (likelihood?) that the P-I may eventually be produced in a tabloid format is worth consideration for a visual on the site, too. . .

We may need to consider whether or not we want to go down the road of doing a survey of students, per Steph’s suggestion.  Am not sure that we have the time to pull that off, nor is it an expectation.  However, I’m game with a 5-10 question survey to MCDM students,  person-on-the-street interviews and comments from the key players as our ‘research’ component.

Since we are all Flash neophytes, I think it’s important that we take a stab at it, understanding that it won’t be perfection. 


Below are brainstorming ideas trailering the last conversation and posts-chat at 5pm tonight J 

Group name(s): SON (Seattleites take On the News) SKK (Stephanie Kristina Kevin…avoids KKK-like acronym) MCDM Productions 

Proposal: Examining the Seattle Times/PI Joint Operating Agreement and broader implications for the future of media ownership.    Background info: Blurb on the JOA story?? 

Questions (send to MCDM mailing list?  Interview Com professors? A couple on the street? – depends on what time allows…):

  • What do you think of the Seattle Times/PI JOA?
  • Do you prefer one paper over the other?
  • How do you foresee the future of newspaper ownership?
  • Is it vital to have more than one newspaper?
  • How do you foresee the future of journalism?
  • Do you view news online?  Where/what sources?

Yes/No Multiple choice questions???Other ideas??? 

*Willing to work on interviews

Online Links: 

Story Articles

Related Articles

Seattle Times

Seattle PI


About Team “Media Ownership”

April 17, 2007 by

Welcome to the Media Ownership weblog created by Kevin, Kristina and Stephanie fora group project in Com 586: Writing and Presentation in Digital Media a University of Washington course for the Department of Communication degree in Master of Communication in Digital Media.  The class is taught by Professor Kathy Gill who maintains a blog at WiredPen and contributes to About US Politics.

About the Group Project:
Working in groups of three or four, students will pitch (to the instructor and teaching assistant) a story idea that relates to either “Seattle” or “Media Ownership”. Students should set up a group blog on WordPress for this project (to communicate with one another and the instructor). The pitch should be online (as a page, not a blog post, with comments enabled), if the group is using a blog.

Students will tell a story with both images and sound (and with minimal text). You tell the story in a traditional HTML format (text, images and downloadable sound) … or use a template from Flash Journalism … or shoot produce video. If you shoot video, it must be converted for web viewing (Quicktime, Windows Media Player, Flash).


o Proposal Due: Monday 16 April 23 April, 6 pm
o Storyboards Due: Monday 14 May, 6 pm
o Draft Due: 21 May, 6 pm
o In-class Presentation (draft): 29 May
o Final Due: Monday 4 June at 6 pm