Seattle PI switch marks the start of a new era

This item on the Seattle P-I website regarding the new era of online-only P-I has me thinking about the piece I recently read by Clay Shirky on the fate of newspapers.

Toward the end he posits the idea of using amateurs as part of the strategy. Perhaps this is a stringer approach. A number of comments on the P-I story are suggesting they not just copy the wire, the editors need to consider how to value-add to the wire, for example, with an original story that links to the wire and places it into local contexts.

There is an abundance of information out there, filtering, linking and contextualizing it could give it value. I’d suggest the P-I might also want to explore Yahoo Pipes and other RSS aggregators — either to feed to the page or to feed to editors who then write and link.

PS. Following this post I read Steven Berlin Johnson on changing newspaper strategies who suggests:

In fact, I think in the long run, we’re going to look back at many facets of old media and realize that we were living in a desert disguised as a rain forest. Local news may be the best example of this. When people talk about the civic damage that a community suffers by losing its newspaper, one of the key things that people point to is the loss of local news coverage. But I suspect in ten years, when we look back at traditional local coverage, it will look much more like MacWorld circa 1987. I adore the City section of the New York Times, but every Sunday when I pick it up, there are only three or four stories in the whole section that I find interesting or relevant to my life – out of probably twenty stories total. And yet every week in my neighborhood there are easily twenty stories that I would be interested in reading: a mugging three blocks from my house; a new deli opening; a house sale; the baseball team at my kid’s school winning a big game. The New York Times can’t cover those things in a print paper not because of some journalistic failing on their part, but rather because the economics are all wrong: there are only a few thousand people potentially interested in those news events, in a city of 8 million people. There are metro area stories that matter to everyone in a city: mayoral races, school cuts, big snowstorms. But most of what we care about in our local experience lives in the long tail. We’ve never thought of it as a failing of the newspaper that its metro section didn’t report on a deli closing, because it wasn’t even conceivable that a big centralized paper could cover an event with such a small radius of interest.

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