I got an anonymous tip that this was going on yesterday, but before I could confirm it Dan Richman of the P-I does:

Staffers selected to participate in an online-only version of the Seattle P-I were notified of their selection Wednesday and Thursday. The selections indicate The Hearst Corp.'s plan for such a Web site is advancing. Two reporters said they received "provisional offers" from P-I New Media head Michelle Nicolosi or Hearst executive Ken Riddick. They said they were told they will be given formal offers if the Web site gets the go-ahead from Hearst's senior management.

One reporter, Hector Castro, received an offer but declined to take it:

The general assignment reporter, at the P-I for nine years, said he turned down Riddick's offer. He said the offer increased his health insurance cost, cut his salary by an unspecified amount, matched his 401(k), required him to forgo his P-I severance pay, reduced his vacation accrual to zero and required him to give up overtime.

According to Castro, Riddick said Hearst plans to start the site the day after the paper quits publishing, which Hearst has said will occur if no buyer has emerged by March 10.

"I got the definite impression Hearst does plan to go forward with the site, assuming the paper stops publishing," Castro said.

He said he turned down the offer because he finds working online "too tech-oriented."

And, you know, maybe the pay and benefits cuts had something to do with it, too. Who's in the online lifeboat? Well...

Most P-I staffers in the office Thursday afternoon said "no" when asked whether they had been asked to become part of Hearst's online-only P-I.

However, declining to comment on whether they had been selected were Brian Chin, senior online producer; Joel Connelly, columnist; Jake Ellison, online producer; Monica Guzman, online reporter; Candace Heckman, assigning editor; Andrea James, business reporter; Sarah Rupp, online producer; Don Smith, interactivity editor; Scott Sunde, assigning editor; Joe Tartakoff, business reporter; and Mike Thompson, Web developer.

And what will the online lifeboat look like? Probably something like this.