So, for a second, let’s philosophize about what the death of the Seattle PI really means on a variety of levels.
1) In an industry that is losing money, losing readers and has been becoming more and more irrelevant since 1995, someone finally decided to put the P-I out of its misery. Shouldn’t this have been considered an option years ago?
2) We will hear arguments that having only one paper will decrease the quality of the journalism. Really? Many people believe the quality of journalism has already diminished. Especially in print. Examples:
- Not one journalist of the 1000′s getting paychecks, investigated Bernie Madoff, AIG or the mortgage meltdown BEFORE any of it happened. How?
- The day before election day Christine Gregoire said Washington’s budget is in surplus. The day after election day, it’s $9 Billion in the hole. No one asks any questions.
- Baseball reporters chose to ignore all reporting on steroids, protecting the people they are supposed to be reporting on.
- Reporters are so used to regurgitating press releases that there is a web site called HelpAReporterOut.
- Reporters became so clueless as to how to write online, we had to come up with a Social Media Press Release to make it possible for them to pull quotes out and link to online sources.
Anyway, the point is that “professional” journalism already seems a shell of itself. People are smart enough to know that reporters know one thing and are writing something else. There are still ones we really respect, but on average, I think we have less faith in the quality of the investigation. Losing the P-I is an effect, not a cause, of journalistic depreciation.
3) The world is digital. I see the stats that say something like 90% of people have cell phones. Which means 1 out of 10 people DON’T. How? Why? I don’t care how old you get, you need to at least accept that technology advances. For the price of one year of printing the New York Times, they could give every subsciber 2 Amazon Kindles.
4) First go the papers, next the local TV news guys? Does a station really need to pay someone $2 million a year to read a teleprompter? Or do you invest $2 million is creating micro-blogs and ways to provide niche news to a captive audience without the restraint of a 30 min newscast?
5) Closing the chasm between “news” and “blog.” Suppose I go ever Interlake High School football game, and write about them on my blog? Anyone who hass “Interlake High School” in a Alert or Feed reader would get my blog post. Do we need an intern from the Journal American to be there as well? Why shouldn’t the JA just promote my citizen post instead?
6) But there’s something nice about holding a paper on a Sunday morning. Really? Getting your hands smudged? Having it blow around in the wind? Squinting to see the font? The annoying ad folded onto the front page? News that was 12-18 hours old? I know there is a comfort factor in reading a piece of environment damaging, dirty, 12 hour old, static piece of paper. But holding an iPhone at the same Coffee shop on the same sunny day is also a satisfying experience.
I’m sure there are 10-20 more things to think about on this issue. I’ll miss the P-I the same way I miss Cheers, Seinfeld, $4 Spring Training Tickets, $.99/gallon gas, my 8th grade classmates at St. Paul’s and the real Ken Griffey roaming Center Field in the Kingdome. But the world changes – usually for the better – and we either adapt with it, or get stuck behind. There are some people that will never go digital, and who will have the way they go about their day extremely disrupted. For them I feel bad, I guess. To a point. But it’s also an opportunity to force these people out of yesterday’s static world and into the benefits of today’s digital society.