Staci D. Kramer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009 2:07 AM
Only Hearst executives will ever understand why they unnecessarily put the staff of the 146-year-old Seattle Post-Intelligencer through an additional week of uncertainty before finally admitting today the print edition ends Tuesday. Hearst will continue to publish seattlepi.com but it would be a mistake to think of it as the Seattle P-I Online. It won't be staffed the same?editorial will have 20 staffers, down from 150-plus?and it won't be framed the same. (According to the P-I, Publisher Roger Oglesby told staff "the bloodline will live on.")
It will, however, cost less to operate. It also will make a petri dish for Hearst as it figures out how to make the transition in other cities. Despite more union concessions, the San Francisco Chronicle's print future is far from assured. Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr.: "Our goal now is to turn seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region." Details after the jump.
Here's how Steven Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, described it in the announcement: "Seattlepi.com isn't a newspaper online?it's an effort to craft a new type of digital business with a robust, community news and information Web site at its core. It will feature the breaking news reporting of Chris Grygiel and others covering City Hall; Levi Pulkkinen reporting on the court system; popular staff blogs like Seattle 911 with Casey McNerthney and the Big Blog by Monica Guzman; columnists like Joel Connelly, Art Thiel and Jim Moore; and of course, the cartooning and commentary of two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Horsey. The Web is first and foremost a community platform, so we'll be featuring new columns from prominent Seattle residents; more than 150 reader blogs, community data bases and photo galleries. We'll also be linking to the great work of other Web sites and blogs in the community."
Editorial details: Michelle Nicolosi, executive producer, will continue to lead the site editorially. She told the P-I: "The site won't have specific reporters, editors or producers?all staff are expected to write, edit, take photos, shoot video and produce multimedia. The former P-I AME said the goal was to determine whether an online-only local news site could turn a profit.
Business side: Swartz said Hearst is "assembling a staff to form a local digital agency that will sell local businesses advertising on seattlepi.com as well as the digital advertising products of our partners: Yahoo for display advertising, Kaango for general marketplaces and Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com for search engine marketing. The site will also feature a digital yellow pages directory powered by Hearst's yellow pages unit, White Directory Publishers." The P-I hasn't had a sales staff because of the JOA; the target number is about 20.
More from Oglesby: "Tomorrow, SeattlePI.com will be reborn, outside the JOA. It will continue, and it will thrive, and it will be a strong and vital voice of this city for years to come."
Hearst cites Nielsen figures putting seattlepi.com among the top 30 news sites with 1.8 million uniques; internal tracking shows an average of 4 million monthly uniques. The print edition claimed a weekday circulation of more than 117,000.