September 30, 2009

Seattle P-I test results still unknown

This evening I came across this blog post by Kenneth Corbin in which he talks about the future of journalism and how the Seattle P-I is testing the waters in this new media age.

And if that's not interesting enough, check out this site. It's called Paper Cuts and it shows exactly how many newspaper jobs have been lost to-date. And also where these cuts have been made. Great time for print journalism right? Well, looks like to survive journalism must adapt. Kinda like JustSON. Welcome to the future.

WASHINGTON -- In some ways, the Seattle P-I is one of the best testbeds the country's got going for what local journalism will look like after the city paper takes its inevitable place behind the glass case at the Smithsonian.

The paper, formerly the beta daily in a two-newspaper town, ended its 146-year print run in March, a victim of declining circulations and the spare economics of digital advertising.

The paper, though eulogized thoroughly, was reborn as a Web-only experiment, a digital news organization pruned from an editorial staff of almost 180 down to about 20.

"It's an adventure," said Monica Guzman, who carriers the title of "news gatherer" at the online-only incarnation of the Seattle P.I.

That title refers to the diversified role of what old-media types knew as reporters. Now, Guzman says everyone on staff does everything. Next Saturday, she'll take a turn at the production shift, leaving her in charge of managing the Web site. All writers are to be trained how to use a camera, to ease the load of the one full-time photographer on the P-I's staff.

"There's this acknowledgment that reporting isn't just reporting in the traditional sense," Guzman said this afternoon at the Gov 2.0 Summit. The event, co-hosted by O'Reilly Media and TechWeb, focuses principally on government and technology, but justified the panel on the future of journalism for the civic good that investigative reporters sometimes provide.

As a "news gatherer," Guzman said she is often cast in the role of facilitator, marshalling the verve of bloggers and citizen journalists by doing things like packing the P-I's site with raw government data that leads to a wellspring of fact-based reporting and commentary, much of it of the hyper-local variety.

"Any time we put up a database online, it just takes off," she said.

So, given the tools, time and inclination, anyone can be an investigative reporter of the sort that helps keep civil servants honest?

Well, it's an experiment. Seattle, Guzman readily admitted, is blessed with a comparatively tech-savvy population that has spawned a vibrant blogging culture. The way she tells it, they're getting street cred in the halls of power. Whereas a couple years ago, press passes for new media types were hard to come by and the desk sergeant might not have given a blogger the time of day, in Seattle of 2009 it's "bad news" for the officials who don't work with the blogging community, Guzman said.

Some of them are even making money, farming out paid assignments, she said.

Enough to shine a light on City Hall, to avoid the descent into the golden age of corruption that David Simon darkly warned a Senate panel about back in May?

Too early to tell. But it's hard to argue that Seattle isn't better off for the online P-I and its burgeoning courtship with the local bloggers. So the experiment continues.

1 comment:

  1. That picture looks like the GEICO money guy.