A Journalism Teacher Reflects On The Seattle P-I, Part 3

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: On March 17, 2009, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published its final print edition, completing a more than 145-year run. Its online presence continues. We at The B-Town Blog, while excited about the future of neighborhood blogs such as ours, lament the folding of great US newspapers, particularly those with such rich histories and stellar legacies as the P-I.

Scott Schaefer and Mark Neuman, of the B-Town Blog, worked together on their high school newspaper, The West Seattle High Chinook, a few decades back. They were fortunate enough to have as their advisor and journalism teacher a lady who truly is one of the very best in the state of Washington, Miss Dorothea Mootafes, known a little better as Dorothy, and affectionately as Miss Moo. Miss Moo has been retired from the Seattle School District for over twenty-five years, lives in the Roosevelt area of Seattle and is quite active in her church and various teacher organizations.

We recently asked her to reflect on the passing of the P-I, and let us in on her P-I memories. Today we continue a four-part Sunday series by Miss Moo.]

by Dorothea Mootafes

Some columnists are associated with presidents. I always thought of Marianne Means as beginning with John F. Kennedy, but she actually wrote for 50 years for the Hearst newspapers from Harry Truman to George W. Bush. On October 5, 2008, in her farewell column, she wrote:

“It’s a new world, for someone else to figure out. So I bid you fine farewell, and I will miss you all terribly particularly my great mentors at the Hearst newspapers.”

Marianne Means was among the first women whose opinion columns appeared in The P-I. Maureen Dowd, Helen Thomas, Ruth Montgomery, Marcia Freeman, and Mary McGrory were among the others.

Men expressing their thoughts through the years in The P-I have been many: Frank Conniff, Jack Anderson, Shelby Scates. Jack DeYonge, George Will, Fendell Yerxa, Drew Pearson, Westbrook Pegler, Fulton Lewis, Jr., Jack McCoy, David Horsey, Jack Hopkins, James Reston, Paul O’Connor, Richard E. Thompson, Patrick J. Buchanan, Jack Douglas, William Safire, Russell Baker, Charles Dunsire, O. Casey Corr, Charles Sykes, Dan Coughlin, Bob Considine, Charles Osgood, Bill Prochnau, Joel Connelly, Sam Angeloff, George Dixon.

For this article of remembrance, I entered my basement with its myriad of yellowing and aromatically scented Post-Intelligencers proclaiming presidential nominations, elections, and inaugurations as well as the rare times when Seattle sports teams triumphed nationally (the Seattle Supersonics in 1979 when they won the NBA Championship and the Seattle Mariners in 1995 when they stopped one game short of playing in the World Series).

The Thursday, May 5, 1977 issue described David Frost’s interview of Richard Nixon which just last year was remembered with the Academy Award nominated movie “Frost-Nixon” based on that historical event.

“Ike New President,” a banner headline on November 5, 1952, announced the nation’s return to rule of the Republican Party for the first time since the Depression, twenty years earlier. The lead editorial that day was a full page in length by the regular editorial width with the title “It’s Ike,” written by William Randolph Hearst, Jr.

In a call for unity, the younger Hearst wrote in one section:

“The Hearst Newspapers and this writer share in the elation of General Eisenhower because we were on his side.” He quoted his father with the following: “The Hearst newspapers are not Democratic in the party sense, nor again are they Republican. In fact, they are not party organs of any kind.”

“The Hearst papers hold as their guiding policy Lincoln’s injunction to support any man when he is right and oppose him when he is wrong.”

“This was Pop’s policy.

“This is our own.”

In the logo of the editorial page that day was a thumbnail photo of the elder Hearst next to his words: “Great issues are never invented or created by political leaders. Real issues make themselves.”

I could not help but remember that the elder Hearst, because of his sensational yellow journalism, was one of those blamed for creating the issue of the Spanish-American War.

The editorial page that day in 1952 included Westbrook Pegler’s “The Republic Is Badly Damaged,” and Fulton Lewis, Jr., “Truman’s Last Order.” The man from Missouri’s flaws were tempered only by Drew Pearson’s “Bitter Campaigns of the Past,” reviewing some of history’s “hottest political campaigns.” The Op Ed page had a soothing effect with E. V. Durling’s “On the Side,” “The Mirror Of Your Mind,” “City Bred Farmer” with Clarence Dirks, and Ph. D. Richmond Barbour with “Parents’ Corner.”

The full page advertisements scattered throughout could have enticed readers in our own era to spend the country out of our recession.

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One Response to “A Journalism Teacher Reflects On The Seattle P-I, Part 3”
  1. cyndi says:

    Thinking about the PI still makes me sad. It was such an integral part of our day. We'd sit on the sofa and read parts of it aloud to one another. We get the Times now. There is something stuffy – alien – about it. To read it is like visiting a foreign country where we feel vaguely lost all the time. I keep waiting to feel at home with the Times and have just about decided it isn't going to happen.

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