March 16, 2009

Seattle P-I To Go Online-Only

Crossposted from Seattlehound.

It’s official: The Seattle P-I will continue as an online-only venture. The last paper edition will be printed tonight, and tomorrow will dawn a new day with a hopefully renewed company. This of course was the right decision, not to close shop and give up but to try to change with the times and offer a more relevant product. About 20 of the staff are staying on, down from a roster of over 150. That’s the worst part of this story, and maybe if they had considered going online-only a few years ago they could have saved more jobs. But by waiting until the last minute, until it was an emergency, they did themselves and their employees a big disservice.

The new executive producer, Michelle Nicolosi, gives some details of what the reborn site will be like. One change I’ve already noticed is that they’ve tidied up the URL. Instead of the cumbersome domain that they were trapped under forever, they’ve gone back to the URL they should have been at all along, Good first move. They’ve also kept a lot of the younger staff on board, like Monica Guzman, who will probably be better suited to a fast and lean online-only operation. Gone are the likes of copy editor Glenn Ericksen, who said the Web “lowers the standard of literacy all around. Who needs copy editors on the Web?” And Hector Castro, who said working online is “too tech-oriented.” Good people, probably, and great newspapermen, but overall probably not the kinds of attitudes that are needed at the New P-I.

So we’ll watch the P-I, and see what they tranform into. I don’t mourn the old P-I because I don’t think there’s anything special about news being delivered on paper that needs to be preserved. Online news is perfectly capable of being good news, and that’s what the P-I is going to have to be focused on from here out. This is a rough patch for the company that they need to climb out of, but beyond that it’s a chance for them to set an example for the rest of the nation that newspapers can work online. Everyone will be watching; they better not screw it up.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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