One year ago, the
Seattle Post-Intelligencer moved from 146 years of print to become an online-only publication. James Rainey
of the Los Angeles Times assesses the
newspaper's transition, and finds some hope for old-media institutions to weather the
online storm. While the PI is not yet profitable,
the paper has succeeded in maintaining its Web traffic since the print edition
Yet this success comes in spite of the fact that, according to Rainey, the PI's content has suffered. In his telling, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's
one-year anniversary gives a cautionary tale for newspapers: the transition to the Internet entails a migration from traditional reporting to the amalgamated mash-up of blogs. What else does the Post-Intelligencer's evolution show?
- Online, Newspapers Are Less Focused, More Lowbrow Rainey points ambivalently to the incorporation of blogs into the paper. He says of its transformation, "The new PI can't afford to be
comprehensive. It doesn't really try to be authoritative. It no longer
offers routine coverage of county government, for example, but
highlights felines in the cutesy LOLcats feature and misses no turn in
the saga of Amanda Knox, the University of Washington student tried for
murder in Italy."
The most novel part of the operation is its
incorporation of citizen journalism... They teach the amateurs how to
choose a topic, write a headline, "optimize" a blog post for Internet
search. The community bloggers produce useful items -- like school
curriculum debates and local crime trends. They also offer plenty that
is leaden or narrow -- a bride's musings on her wedding or a homeowner's
ponderous diary on a visit by a film crew."
- While Blogs Are Becoming More Like Newspapers Gawker's Ravi Somaiya argues that the
increased competition between blogs is in fact forcing
bloggers to adopt the techniques of newspapers. The role of bloggers is no longer "quickly
repackaging content and adding a penis joke," writes Somaiya, but also
to "write tight, concise headlines, choose decent pictures or art, and
provide readers with more evidence of journalism (pics, or documents, or
it didn't happen).... Opinion pieces and rants cannot rely on raw snark
— the ones that get read will hold together, under immediate comment
scrutiny, like a traditional op-ed." The reason behind this, Somaiya
concludes, is the pressure to be faster and clearer than anyone else: "Because
more people now pluck most of their news from their social networks,
blog time is measured in minutes not hours — you're either first or
definitive or funniest or most provocative or someone else will have the
link that gets tweeted and posted on walls. If you are first (and it
doesn't have to be Watergate) a vague headline will not work as it once
might have. Because whimsy does not retweet well."
- So What's the Difference? David Burn of Adpulp explains why the distinction between newspapers and blogs
There are blogs and then there are blogs. It
seems to me some of the bigger blogs have transcended the very term
"blog". I don't know what they ought to be called, but they more closely
resemble mainstream media properties than they do a Blogger site on
picking wild mushrooms. Then there's the fact that many topics don't
appear in newspapers at all. Neighborhood news isn't in the paper (the
papers can't afford the coverage) and ad industry news isn't in the
paper (because there's very little hard news to cover).
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments
or send an email to the author at
jkeller at theatlantic dot com.
You can share ideas for stories on the Open Wire.