By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Seattle experiment

Let’s begin with the obvious. It’s a damn shame that about 145 newsroom folks are losing their jobs, as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer becomes the largest newspaper in the country to move to an online-only platform. Only about 20 people will cover the news at seattlepi.com.

That said, I think 20 people could do a lot of useful damage if they’re focused on the right things — covering local news that really matters and offering intelligent aggregation of other content, including local bloggers. Given that the Post-Intelligencer was the number-two paper in Seattle, I can think of no better place to try such an experiment. Too bad the dominant paper, the Seattle Times, is in such tough shape, too. But that’s the case pretty much everywhere.

I was interested in see in Ken Doctor’s analysis that Lincoln Millstein, the head of Hearst News Digital, will have an indirect hand in the Seattle experiment. Way back when, Millstein was editor of what was then the Boston Globe’s Living/Arts section, and a good one.

That said, I’m skeptical of the online-only model. Maybe if seattlepi.com enjoys some initial success, the Hearst folks might consider a free daily tabloid consisting of the best of what’s online. As long as advertising remains more lucrative in print than on the Web, that might be the way to go.

Some sort of print presence would also help to distinguish it from Crosscut, a non-profit community news site that serves the Seattle area.

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3 Comments

  1. Adam Gaffin

    Millsten was also in charge of the first incarnation of boston.com, no?

  2. lkcape

    “…do a lot of useful damage….”Interesting choice of words. A Freudian slip?Is this a genuine view of the role of the media?People might find that this sort of bias might not be acceptable.

  3. Michael Pahre

    I grew up reading the Seattle P-I every morning. Enough news for a kid, but the depth on anything national or international was really lacking.Back then I couldn’t read the Seattle Times every morning — it was one of those quirky afternoon newspapers that have since disappeared. What a nutty concept: an afternoon paper! How quaint! Extra! Extra! Read all about it!Once the Times decided to move to publishing in the mornings, it basically sealed the deal that the P-I was a dead man walking. I’m surprised it managed to stay afloat this long.

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