Seattle will remain a two newspaper town. And I am working for a very, very happy newsroom.
I was at a journalist training workshop at the Tacoma News Tribune when an editor walked in with a breaking news update: “The Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer have reached a settlement that will allow both newspapers to continue publishing for the foreseeable future.”
The delightful shock rocked my core. The enormity of what that meant exactly — for my job, for my co-workers, for my future — started to flood through my brain.
“I get to keep my job. I get to stay in Seattle! Oh thank God. Thank God.”
About 75 reporters filled the room from various regional papers. Including, to my surprise, Shawna Gamache, a reporter whom I attended grad school with.
But only three reporters were from the Seattle Times — they were gloomier — and I was the only one from the P-I. My colleague, Daniel, arrived later. He told everyone, “I knew Andrea was in the room because she tackled me from behind with a hug.”
The reporters around me said, “Congratulations.” My phone was filled with text messages, including from my mentor, Rob Wells, who was ecstatic.
Taking this job, moving across the country, was a risk. But one that I gladly took given that I get to work for a stellar newspaper and live in Seattle — a gorgeous, clean and livable city.
But, I’ve started to realize that I want to stay here for at least three or four years. Maybe forever. Except, I hadn’t been allowing myself to get close to anyone. I rent my apartment month to month. I skied as if I won’t be able to next year.
My co-workers also have put their lives on hold. Delaying marriages, children, buying houses, buying refrigerators or any major expense. Instead, we waited to see if our chief competitor, the Seattle Times, would succeed in shutting us down. The lawyers battled it out, while we reported.
Though it was a settlement — that is, it never came to binding arbitration — most of Seattle agrees: The Post-Intelligencer won.
The Seattle Times has to pay the P-I’s parent company $24 million. They can’t try to shut us down again until 2016. And the delivery trucks that deliver both papers will be repainted to have the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s name prominently displayed.
As I drove back to my newsroom that afternoon, the city sparkled. I smiled and said a thankful prayer. This city is mine now, too.
On Monday night we partied.
The P-I rented out a nearby bar and restaurant. We had free food and drinks from six until midnight.
I left my car at the P-I and walked over. The sun warmed my face.
When I walked in, everyone was eating and drinking. That bar was filled with happy people. Elated people. Hugging and crying people. And spouses and children too.
Anne Foster, who is married to one of our editors, went to Pike Place Market and bought 60 tulips. She gave one to each of us.
Bill Miller, a city editor, put up his hand. I high-fived him and he began to holler. I echoed him with a high-pitched whoop and soon the whole bar broke into hugs and cheers again. This happened several times throughout the evening. A radio reporter interviewed some of us.
The P-I’s pending closure has been hanging over my head for only eight months. For many, it has been looming for four years.
But now we get to live! And print more papers!
People began to say, “This round is on Frank.” Frank Blethen is the man who owns the Times.
When our publisher, Roger Oglesby, walked in, he got a standing ovation. People threw flowers at his feet.
Mark Matassa, the man who hired me, came too. It was so great to see him in his University of Oregon ball cap. I thanked him for hiring me. He was happy to see that his hires get to keep their jobs!
The managing editor, David McCumber, put his arm around me. “Thanks for taking a chance on us. We are glad to have you here.” I felt enormously proud and part of the team.
Others also thanked me for coming to the P-I, for being brave enough to work for the paper and keep it going while the future was uncertain. I had never thought of it that way. I see myself as lucky to work for the P-I.
Next thing, a long black limo showed up, courtesy of Art Thiel, our sports columnist and radio personality. It was stuffed with champagne and about 10 of us piled in, including David Horsey, our cartoonist.
The limo drove us to Kerry Park overlook, and then we swung by the Seattle Times.
The employees got out of the limo and chanted at the building, “Paint those trucks!” I think this was one of the photographer’s ideas. “Paint Those Trucks! Paint Those Trucks!”
The delivery trucks currenly only show the Seattle Times logo.
And then they whooped and danced in front of the Times. The reporters in their newsroom waved. It’s a friendly rivalry — sometimes.
The limo took everyone out on rounds around Seattle, delivering scores of P-I people to the Times’ doorstep to cheer (or urinate, yikes), and then back to the bar for more food and drink.
At 11 p.m. it was announced: The bar still had $1,000 left to spend for the tab.
Journalists, naturally, took this as a challenge.
More rounds. More beers. Some of the men drank 12- and 18-year-old scotch.
Eustacio, a photo editor recently hired from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, handed out shots. He’s also my ski buddy. We toasted to shredding more mountains.
Finally the lights came on. The P-I sent us each home in a taxi with cab vouchers.
It was a grateful night. I caught the metro bus in bright and early this morning. Head hurting, but ready to report and do a great job.
Life. Is. Good.
(This piece was written in April 2007 and shared privately with friends at the time. It was published in August 2009.)