With Hearst still being quiet and cryptic about the official last day for the printed Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reporters at the paper are resorting to reading tea leaves and hoping that after two months of anxiety the end will at least be swift. One P-I staffer, in an e-mail to me today, wrote:

If you want to characterize the feeling around here, it's 'Put us out of our misery already.'

Two other staffers told me that the deadline for special stories that will run in the last print edition has been moved up to this Friday. That, plus another visit this week from Ken Riddick, Hearst's vice president for digital media, and a planned visit next week by some Hearst new-media types ("to look at our equipment," said one P-I reporter) has people inside the P-I headquarters wondering if the end is coming sooner than March 18, the date that many have fixated on in the absence of a clear timeline from Hearst.

However, with Denver's Rocky Mountain News having been shuttered with only one-day's notice last week by the E.W. Scripps Company, it could be that those deadline-changing P-I editors just want to be on the safe side.

P-I writer Mike Lewis, who's working on one of the last-edition articles, confirmed that his deadline was recently moved up but cautioned: “Either someone knows something, or someone is just worried about something and they want to be able to have a decent final paper."

He added: "I think that after 137 years, having a decent final paper is something worth placing a value on.”