UPDATE: Killer Storm Curbs Seattle Papers for 2nd Day

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By: E&P Staff

A ferocious wind and rain storm that killed tfour people as it raked Seattle prevented the jointly produced Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer from publishing Friday. It is a rarity when major metros fail to print.

A power outage that affect more than a million people around the region brought the newspapers’ Bothell printing plant to a halt. Power still had not been restored to the Bothell plant by late Friday. Plans for Saturday’s print editions were up in the air.

The Times reported, “As of early afternoon, The Times had made plans to print parts of the Saturday Times and P-I at The News-Tribune in Tacoma and at Rotary Offset Press, a Times subsidiary in Tukwila. The advance edition of the Sunday newspaper, also known as the ‘Bulldog,’ would not be printed.

Later in the day, the P-I revealed, “As of Friday evening, power had not been restored. Managers made plans to print a truncated Saturday edition of the Seattle P-I — without comics, stocks, an editorial page or TV listings — at the Seattle Times Co.’s Rotary Offset Press facility in Kent.

“Contingency plans were made to print Saturday’s edition of The Seattle Times at The News Tribune in Tacoma if power wasn’t restored at North Creek in time, said Seattle Times Co. spokeswoman Jill Mackie.”

David McCumber, the P-I’s managing editor, described himself as “heartbroken” about it. However, he added, according to an an article on the Web, the incident underscored the growing significance of online publishing.

The P-I reported: “Based on early totals as of Friday evening, the newspaper was expecting a significant increase in traffic on SeattlePI.com for the full day — about 40 percent to 50 percent more than normal.”

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Earlier:

About 13,000 copies of the Times for Friday were printed before the power outage shut down the press. These copies were distributed in downtown Seattle and Bellevue.

Friday, the papers made their E-editions, electronic versions of the printed paper, available free on their Web sites, seattletimes.com and seattlepi.com. The timing was especially bad, since the papers had a rare Thursday night Seattle Seahawks NFL football game to dissect.

At midday, the presses continued to be out, said Carolyn Kelly, president and CFO of the Seattle Times Co. The Times Co., principally owned by the Blethen family, produces the paper for the joint operating agreement (JOA) with Hearst Co.’s P-I.

The Times had not missed a publication day since 1953 during a 94-day strike. The P-I said it was only the third time ever it had not published.

“Unfortunately, the severe nature and unprecedented breadth of the power disruption continues to affect our presses,” Kelly said.

The Times noted that P-I Publisher Roger Oglesby wasn’t critical of his rival paper’s preparations and handling of the windstorm. “I don’t have any particular complaints to lodge against The Seattle Times about this,” he said this morning.

Both papers set up extended blog, forum and photo sections on their sites. The ‘P-I’ Web site was topped most of Friday with:

“SEATTLE P-I READERS: Because of power outages and storm damage, P-I subscribers did not receive their newspapers. We apologize for the inconvenience. We are making our electronic e-edition available to everyone without cost. This edition includes all the contents of your regular newspaper.”

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