By the time this blog is posted, more digital ink will have been spilt over the "death" of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer print edition than real ink that was used in that paper. In case you missed it, Hearst Corporation, the P-I's parent, pulled the plug on the print edition as of St. Patrick's Day. The paper is now web only, with twenty in the newsroom, down from about 160.
Just last week, another group announced a plan to create specialized printer for subscribers to print their own version of a newspaper right in their own homes. Uh-huh. And Plastic Logic's new digital reader (think over-sized Kindle) is aimed right at the newspaper and magazine market.
But back to the P-I. What is interesting is not that the paper version died (it was about time), but the plans for the online P-I. The plans strike me as weird. Here are some highlights (in italics) with my comments:
Little original Content. Hmmmm . . .. Not a good idea. If it is syndicated from outside then it will mean that it has probably been syndicated by a bigger source, where I can find it more easily. However, they will keep their popular bloggers.
Links to other sites. Many sites have links elsewhere but is his really wise for a small-ish paper? Even with their respectable UV numbers, they can only hurt themselves.
They have roped in some government officials, past and present, to write columns. With all due respect to these particular officials, most people do not like politicians because they bloviate (there's a nickel word). Just imagine the enthusiasm for their writing now.
Re-purposed Hearst magazine content. This is probably a good idea. Hearst owns about a gejillion second and third tier magazines that do pretty well. They can incorporate much of that content into the P-I site. If these magazines are the links to external sources, then Hearst is keeping the traffic in the family---which can only do them some good.
Logically, the P-I should build its brand as the source for news and information (especially about the tech industry there), but these plans make it look like a local TV station site. It is not clear that they can sustain the brand with this content strategy.
On the other hand, they can be a testbed for experimentation. We like that. And that brings us to the next post in the next few days: What can be done for the sites for newspapers.