Or, actually, Tracy Record of the West Seattle Blog was responding to media mogul Steve Brill, who, in The New York Times' roundtable editorial on the struggling newspaper biz, dropped this ill-informed nugget: "I think in many ways the prospects may be brighter for papers like the Seattle P.I. or the [Minneapolis] Star Tribune to charge online, because they don't have as many content competitors for the good local reporting they do."
WTF? No "content competitors" in Seattle? On the NYT's comments section to the story, this drew an immediate slap-down...Okay, we're guessing that Brill, who founded The American Lawyer and Court TV has never actually been to Seattle or Minneapolis, and has no idea how blogs, community papers, and alt-weeklies are on the beat here.
In Record's tart rebuttal (third in the comments section), she replies: "I am disappointed that the opening to this piece repeats the erroneous implication that newspapers are alone in covering the 'school board or county executive.'" True, she makes a good point.
But Brill, a successful media entrepreneur, has a larger point here, one that applies equally to the P-I and WSB: "With the current model of free online content, newspapers have essentially turned themselves into shoppers--but, ironically, still with great quality, created by the same culture and people whose work consumers used to pay for. This is complete suicide." He thinks readers, whether online or in print, should pay for content.
And if the P-I goes online-only, good luck with that strategy. Because last time I checked, the WSB wasn't asking us to pay for the news.