Blogs Feb 20, 2009 at 3:03 pm


I eagerly await the day when a story I am interested in simply becomes a neverending series of clickthroughs from Slog, to PI, to Digg, to Reddit, to NYT, to....
From the point of news reporting, I can't say that this is necessarily a bad thing.

Multiple view points are nice but there are so many stories in every newspaper that are also covered in every OTHER newspaper. Why not focus on original reporting for more local events an and link to other stories of a more national interest?
ha PI HuffPo. Well done.

actualy it's pretty genius. good for them. and West Seattle Blog kicks ass to boot.
And may I overinterpret the "yikes." I didn't know they were going to link to us -- in fact, it was a close call that I got to write about that hearing at all - but having covered all the preceding city hearings - and having a 30-year background in "old media" news (blah blah blah boilerplate personal disclaimer) - I wouldn't say it's quite so "yikes." I'm surprised they didn't have their own person covering it (apparently), but if I hadn't been able to write about this, and you or the P-I or the Times had, I probably would have linked to THAT story from our site, which is perfectly acceptable now that we are here in The New Millennium - no law says a news site can ONLY link to its own stuff.

Bottom line is that they linked to a story written by a veteran journalist, instead of having their own story written by what I would hope at a major-market newspaper would be a veteran journalist. We write just the news, we don't editorialize, etc., and I did some followup afterward - procuring the actual report, and getting a reader's question answered.

So I hope the fine print on the "Yikes" isn't a ZOMG HOW LOW-RENT OF THEM ...
How is this different from Google News or from Reuters using "local news" produced in India?
I'm reminded of the Burt Reynolds character in "Boogie Nights" who always insisted that he'd never shoot on video....
"one in which exists as a combination of link aggregation, blogging on subjects that tend to draw high traffic, and original reporting by a very small staff. ": That's what my numbers pencil out to for revenue. They'd have a very tiny staff, maybe a few reporters who leave the building, a few programmers, a tiny management staff, and so forth. Maybe 20 to 30 people if they can sustain the current traffic and get some dollars to support the first two years.

I wrote about this over at Josh Feit's Publicola with all the ugly logic of why the P-I can probably only bring in maybe $1.5 million a year with current traffic assuming reasonable ad rates.
West Seattle Blog does a great job covering important local issues that fly right under the radar of many Seattle media outlets, including Le Stranger. But it is kind of "yikes" that the P-I wouldn't cover the snowstorm hearing themselves.
This is the new reality of the news marketplace: Ad dollars won't support the big staff that papers used to have. So, an online P-I web site will, of necessity, be much smaller. Why is that so surprising?
So, should we start calling their site:

One thing that the PI will do wrong as an online paper ("blog" is what they're called nowadays, I think) is that it won't shift from its modicum of "journalistic neutrality" to a clear point of view. Without a clear point of view (left, right, up, down, whatever), it won't be compelling enough to keep people on board, or maddening enough to gain attention (cf. The Stranger). Lacking a strong point of view, it will fizzle into oblivion.
Can you blame them for shedding everyone and going barebones? Take these two things into account:

1: Real reporting is expensive, and there's not much money in internet advertising. Could the Stranger manage to produce the Slog (in its current form) without the subsidy that display advertising in the paper provides? I doubt it.

2: If they're intending to compete in the blog market, as full time paid reporters, they're fucked. In agreement with #8... there are ton of people doing an awesome job covering local news for no pay at all. There's no way they can compete.
Amazon should buy them, give every subscriber a Kindle, and operate it as a "real" newspaper, only sans newsprint.

(Actually, I just pulled that out of my derriere, because I'm not even sure what a kindle is, or even if I have the name right. But it made me feel smart and hip there for a moment.)

But seriously - if the kindle thingy is as good as the kindle people say, it would be great for people who need large print (like old people, who are the people who still read papers). It would also be a great way to sell ads and e-books. If you were reading a book review, for instance, you could buy the ebook right there from the review, right?
@12: There is only one West Seattle Blog!
#12: I wouldn't say there are a "ton" of people doing good local coverage for no pay at all. There are some non-paid online journalists trying to become paid journalists. But the amount of coverage they do doesn't begin to compete with the amount a big newsroom like the P-I can produce.
You do know that they're linking directly to Slog from their home page right this minute, right?
Now they're linking to Lifehacker.

This is very...unfortunate. They have quality people over there, and now they've resorted to becoming an aggregation site.
I can't believe it. You're holding up the West Seattle Blog as the "New Journalism?"

Give me a break.

It's an OK neighborhood effort, but that's about all.

those links are obviously a sign of things to come. becomes kind of like a mirror.
Saying West Seattle Blog is an "OK neighborhood effort" is like saying Kate Winslett is an "OK character actor."

Royko's dead
That's what I said
"One can think of a number of sites that follow this model".

One might suggest that is what Slog is.
... and most blogs, really. (that is, lots of links to and blockquotes from other sources interspersed with original content).

either way, this straight link to WSB from the front page of the P-I is a big deal. However, by the end of the day it was replaced by a P-I story about the same topic.
If your story is that the P-I online edition will have a smaller staff, great scoop! Duh

Please wait...

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