Out Of The Ashes Of Newspapers...

from the looking-forward dept

Lots of folks have been writing in asking about the news that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has finally admitted what many people knew was going to happen for a while: the newspaper is shutting down, while the website will live on with a much smaller staff. Of course, rather than focusing on the "death" of the paper, it's a lot more interesting to look at the opportunities the new site will embrace. The kickoff discussion seems to be full of excitement about a chance to do something different than to simply mimic what everyone has been saying a newspaper needs to be:
We're going to break a lot of rules that newspaper Web sites stick to, and we are looking everywhere for efficiencies.... We don't have reporters, editors or producers--everyone will do and be everything. Everyone will write, edit, take photos and shoot video, produce multimedia and curate the home page.
We definitely need more experiments and flexibility, so it will be worth watching what happens here. I'm not sure it's the best idea to make everyone do everything (splitting jobs up so that there's more streamlined efficiency does have value), but it's great to see that the new folks are at least open to experimenting -- with a focus on delivering more value (finally!) to the reader:
We're going to focus on what readers are telling us they want and on what makes SeattlePI.com essential and unique--within the context of our local news mission, of course. We know what we do best, and we are going to build on the things that we know our readers love, and look to find new ways to inform and entertain them.
Meanwhile, with the Rocky Mountain News shutting down a few weeks back, some of the reporters there have gathered together to try to startup a brand new online-only publication called In Denver Times. They're making an interesting play, however: saying they'll only start it if they get 50,000 people to agree to pay $5/month by April 23rd. That seems like a tall order, given that people aren't really being told what they're getting. The reporters say that plenty of the news will be available for free on their site, but subscribers will get access to bonus materials, such as opinion pieces and special chat rooms. But, for that to work, there needs to be a clear benefit to those, and since they don't yet exist, there may be something of an "empty room" problem.

Either way, it'll be worth watching both experiments play out. They may not be successful (and, if I had to bet, I'd probably bet against both), but it's great to see new experiments and ideas being tested directly out of the ashes of these two newspapers. It makes it pretty clear that the death of a newspaper certainly doesn't mean the death of journalism.

Filed Under: failure, new businesses, newspapers, web sites
Companies: in denver times, rocky mountain news, seattle post-intelligencer

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  1. identicon
    Kirk, 17 Mar 2009 @ 7:45am


    The Denver Post guy on public radio this morning said that they're not going to make the mistake of pinning their business model on advertising since that's just not going to work. Uh Oh. Someone should help them understand that subscriptions aren't going to work.

    And to this dude:
    "Lazy online readers who cavalierly refer to a reporter's hard work as "content" won't pay for news."

    It's not the readers' job to think of reasons why they should pay. And lazy? Really?! Perhaps you're lazy for not putting my kids through college. Or maybe you just have better things to do with your time and money.

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