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Thursday, December 22, 2005

Blethen’s Curse, Explained

Posted by on December 22 at 14:14 PM

That strange Christmas postcard that Schmader posted below is not quite as random as it seems.

It’s a reference to the 2000 newspaper strike by employees for The Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer—which happened right around Christmas. As former Seattle Times reporter Ross Anderson chronicled in this diary of the strike, Times publisher Frank Blethen uttered his famous (in some circles) curse on the fourth day of the strike, Nov. 24, 2000.

It came about because of a “strike paper” called The Union Record, which striking employees were publishing with printing help from a Seattle Times rival, the Eastside Journal:


The first hard copy of the Union Record hits the streets. The product is a clean, readable rendition of what has been appearing on the Web site. Frank Blethen is not impressed. When he learns the paper has been printed at the rival Eastside Journal in Bellevue, he fires off an e-mail to the publisher: “Fuck you to death. Your ex-friend Frank.” Copies of the e-mail promptly circulate around the building and, inevitably, across the picket lines. Inside, the overworked editors find it amusing. Strikers do not.

The Eastside Journal declines to keep printing the paper, forcing the Guild to move further out of town—to a non-union shop.

And the rest is bizarre Christmas postcard history…