What will the Seattle P-I look like after today? It's going to be a slimmed down version of even the current online site. And it could, at times, seem the voice of government. According to the NY Times, "Among the new columnists, Hearst said, will be Norm Rice [left], a former Seattle mayor, and his wife Constance Rice; a congressman, Jim McDermott; Maria Goodloe-Johnson, who heads the city's public schools; and a former police chief, a former United States attorney, and two former governors."
"We're going to break a lot of rules that newspaper Web sites stick to," says New Media Executive Producer (formerly P-I assistant managing editor) Michelle Nicolosi, "and we are looking everywhere for efficiencies."
That will include featuring lots of bloggers, she says. The P-I will "continue to showcase the great content from our 150 or so reader bloggers and we'll link offsite to content partners and competitors to create the best mix of news on our front page." In other words, after shedding most of 150 staffers, they'll cut costs by aggregating (borrowing) some stories and relying on reader reports.
Update: In a separate letter to readers-post, Nicolosi says "Seattlepi.com will continue to cover city hall, crime, courts, real estate, development, education, transportation and more. When a snowstorm hits, we'll be here to help you figure out which busses are running, and which streets to avoid. When Microsoft or Boeing makes a move, we'll tell you about it on our Microsoft and Boeing blogs. Jim Moore and Art Thiel will both continue to bring you their take on the latest in sports twice a week. Joel Connelly will still be here to give you his views on the political scene, and David Horsey will continue to cartoon and blog for you. We're also adding some new features we haven't had before, including new @home and health articles from Hearst magazines including Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics and Redbook."
The P-I's website over the weekend divorced its electronic host - the Seattle Times - and became a standalone e-paper. Hearst just announced it was producing its final print edition today, rolling off the presses tomorrow.
Read Nicolosi's statement after the jump:
The creation of SeattlePI.com as a standalone digital news and information business is a great opportunity for us to try out many of the theories journalism professionals and academics have been throwing around for the past few years. Is it possible to run an online-only local news site that serves a city's readers well while turning a profit? Is a digital news product a viable solution for cities whose papers can no longer afford to operate? We think so.
We're going to break a lot of rules that newspaper Web sites stick to, and we are looking everywhere for efficiencies. We don't feel like we have to cover everything ourselves. We'll partner for some content; we won't duplicate what the wire is reporting unless we have something unique to offer; we'll continue to showcase the great content from our 150 or so reader bloggers and we'll link offsite to content partners and competitors to create the best mix of news on our front page.
We'll continue to develop alliances that give us content readers want, like our current partnerships with TV Guide.com and business publisher Xconomy.com.
We just sealed a new partnership with Hearst Magazines that will give us great new health and wellness and @home content from Cosmopolitan, Country Living, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics and Redbook. We've also signed up dozens of prominent local leaders to write columns for us.
On top of all that of course we're going to be creating a tremendous amount of original content. We'll spend our staff time where we know we have something unique and civically important to offer. A lot of our staff efforts will be on coverage of government, spending, crime, and harder news in general. Online traffic patterns and a recent survey of SeattlePI.com readers tell us that readers are most interested in breaking news and hard news. Readers are also interested in photo galleries for all kinds of news and features. Our daily news of the world photo gallery is one of the most popular features on SeattlePI.com.
We don't have reporters, editors or producers--everyone will do and be everything: Everyone will write, edit, take photos and shoot video, produce multimedia and curate the home page. That'll be a training challenge for everyone, but we're all up for the challenge and totally ready to pick up all these skills. I'm personally looking forward to becoming a better photographer and videographer via personal coaching from our incredible photographer Josh Trujillo. If you missed this amazing photo Josh took of the full moon rising over the P-I globe from a kayak the other day, check it out. We'll also be joined by couple of well-loved sports columnists--Jim Moore and Art Thiel--who will each write for us twice a week and our two-time Pulitzer winning cartoonist who will continue to create his brilliant cartoons and blog for us at DavidHorsey.com.
Bottom line: We're going to focus on what readers are telling us they want and on what makes SeattlePI.com essential and unique--within the context of our local news mission, of course. We know we do best, and we are going to build on the things that we know our readers love, and look to find new ways to inform and entertain them.
My staff and I are thrilled to have the chance to prove that an online-only news operation can make money and do a great job serving readers. Literally, I'm getting emails from staff with the subject line, "Woo!" And Tweets that read, "I'm so excited about everything...can't even describe the feeling..."
Our strategy moving forward is to experiment a lot and fail fast--that's how we've been operating the Web site for years, and it's been a very effective formula for growth.
We will resist the urge to be sentimental about the things we've always done. We have to reinvent how things are done on many fronts. Everybody on the staff is excited to see what we can do with this new mission.
Though we have been a small newspaper with under 120,000 subscribers, we have been in the top 30 most popular U.S. newspaper Web sites on the monthly Nielsen numbers for a long time. You don't see too many newspapers with 120,000 subscribers in that list.
We are successful because we pay close attention to what the reader wants. We have a "survival of the fittest" attitude about content that isn't working. If a story, beat or blog isn't resonating with the readers, we ask, is there something wrong with our approach, display or placement? We look for ways to improve results, and if that particular feature doesn't work after six months of trying out improvements, we will likely decide to kill it. Experiment a lot, fail fast.