The Paper Is Dead! Long Live the Paper!

March 2009

As of St. Patrick’s Day, much had already been written about the “death” of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer print edition, which the parent company, the Hearst Corporation, shut down on that green day. The paper is now web only, with twenty in the newsroom, down from about 160. This is not the only news about newspapers these days but, to me, what is most important is the content plan of the P-I site. Here’s my take: Little original content (weird). Include existing blogs (good but unstable; if they are that good they will leave for a better gig.) Links to other sites: While many news sites do this, is it really wise? Link to other sources within the Hearst family (see below). Local government officials as columnists: Now there’s a thriller. Snore. Hearst magazine content: This is a good idea. Hearst owns numerous magazines. Repurpose the content AND link to the magazine sites. Keep the traffic in the family. This is probably a good idea. How they will differentiate themselves from the sites of local TV stations remains to be seen. At least the inclusion of commentary may make it fresh. What seems to be missing from the reports of the plans are social networking and UGC functionality. Local Little League teams or AYSO teams should be invitted to create their pages there. It would cost the P-I little to enable such additional pages to be created. In that approach, they could become something of a virtual community center. But whatever direction they take, they should build a brand–or build on the brand they have, which is a pretty good one. And, the good news in all this: the newspaper industry now has a testbed–one of many more to come in the very near future, like the next couple of months, given the terror felt (rightly or wrongly) by newspaper corporate owners. Long live the paper! Full disclosure: a variation on this blog will be (or has been) posted on the blog “Convergent Realities” at http://www.thectcnetwork.org.

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