Sunday, May 20, 2007

Move to 'e-paper' not a P-I plan

"Someday, Seattle P-I readers may be able to carry around their news in a bendable, electronic paper device -- but not any time soon.

The Hearst Corp., which owns the Seattle P-I, has no plans to use the Seattle daily newspaper to test a newly announced e-paper gadget, Kenneth Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media, said Friday in response to a media report that said the P-I had plans to do so within two years.

A story published on the Seattle news site was incorrect, Bronfin said.
'There is no doubt that we care a lot about this topic,' Bronfin said. 'We have not set any plans forward to do something in the Seattle market.'
The Crosscut story said that 'Hearst is planning to field test a version of the long-promised e-paper here in Seattle.'

The publication stands by its story, Crosscut Editor Chuck Taylor said Friday." Read More:

Comment Posted by billrichards at 5/18/07 3:03 p.m.

Since the P-I did not have the professionalism or courtesy to talk to me before running Andrea James article on its website today, I'd like to set the record straight here.

I interviewed Ken Bronfin, head of Hearst Interactive, by phone on Tues., May 15, because I had seen a June 12, 2006 article by the Reuters news service which quoted Bronfin as saying Hearst planned to test out its e-paper device on its newspapers in Houston and San Francisco later that year. I took the precaution of taping our interview (with Bronfin's approval) last Tuesday when I asked him whether Hearst planned to also field-test its e-paper in Seattle. Here is his answer:

"I'd love to do that if possible, if we can live within the restrictions of the JOA. The answer is yes, it would make a lot of sense. It's a great market for trying this out. We've significantly improved our relationship with the Times Co. I would imagine if we did this, assuming good relations with the Times Co., they would be involved as well. Assuming relations were good, the more the merrier."

Mr. Bronfin then told me he had been back and forth between NY and Seattle a number of times. I asked how long before Hearst would be testing out its e-paper in Seattle. His answer:

"If we did something, it's still nine to 12 months away. There's still a lot of hard work to do."

A Hearst public relations man called me later to say Bronfin misspoke about the time frame and it could be up to two years before the device was tested out here in Seattle.

I also interviewed P-I Publisher Roger Oglesby about the e-paper project. He said: "The P-I has no present plans to test this device." Oglesby also added: "Anything can change. It's a technology that has potential." I then called Hearst's pr man and asked about Oglesby's statement. He said Oglesby might not be aware of all the things Bronfin's division was planning to do.

Bill Richards


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