Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Serial meets The X-Files in Limetown, a fictional podcast drawing raves after just one episode
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Jan. 12, 2009, 4:04 p.m.

Is there room for two in Seattle?

Consensus: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is unlikely to find a buyer within 60 days — make that 57 days — the deadline set on Friday by its publisher, the Hearst Corporation. That means the most populous city in the Northwest will be left with just one daily newspaper, The Seattle Times, which is itself in poor financial health.

Debate: Should Hearst shutter the P-I completely or make a go at an online-only incarnation of the paper with significantly reduced staff? Peter Kafka of All Things Digital dismisses the latter out of hand, pointing to the P-I’s 2 to 3 million unique visitors per month and concluding:

That would keep a blog with a handful of writers and editors afloat—if it had a specific niche, like, say technology news. And if it had a national audience to sell to advertisers. But a generalized news site for a local audience? No one’s figured out how to do it yet, and a recession probably isn’t the time to solve that riddle.

The more optimistic voices in this debate think that an online-only operation with slimmed-down expenses could be viable in savvy Seattle, where population and startups are still on the rise. Martin Langeveld of News After Newspapers thinks that a “digital press baron” should buy the P-I and launch a “full-scale, head-to-head, old-fashioned newspaper war between a printed newspaper and an online news venture.”

Though the financials behind such a move would be shaky, there’s reason to believe that Seattle has room for two major news organizations, even if one of them is completely digital.

Check out the above chart we’ve compiled of monthly unique visitors to the Times and Post-Intelligencer websites over 2007 and 2008, according to Nielsen Online. In September through November 2008, both newspapers separately averaged about 2 million uniques with the P-I finishing slightly ahead of its rival down Denny Way (2,054,000 to 1,938,000). That’s somewhat surprising since the Times has a 69% larger print circulation on weekdays (198,741 to 117,572).

But this is more interesting: traffic at the two newspaper sites is rarely in sync. When the Times had a stellar January 2007, it was just an average month for the P-I, and while September 2008 was great for the Times, the P-I didn’t peak until October. That suggests a lot of healthy competition in Seattle’s online news market with the potential for a killer site — by the Seattle Times Company, Hearst Corporation, or one of Langeveld’s digital press barons — to dominate. An early entrant into the field is Crosscut, a not-yet-profitable Northwest news site based in Seattle, which just so happens to be bullish on the P-I’s online future.

(Photo of the iconic globe atop the Post-Intelligencer building by M.V. Jantzen on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.)

POSTED     Jan. 12, 2009, 4:04 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Serial meets The X-Files in Limetown, a fictional podcast drawing raves after just one episode
“Serial had to stay nonfictional. At the end of the show, it didn’t necessarily mean that it had a conclusion. That’s the biggest advantage we have: We’re making it up. So we can give you an ending.”
The Atlantic is returning to blogging
“We missed the kind of writing it represents. We missed the kind of audience engagement it represents.”
The mourning of AJR is less about a decline in press criticism than the loss of an institution
Like the media it covers, journalism criticism has moved from the work of a few established institutions to something more diffuse.
What to read next
2351
tweets
The New York Times built a Slack bot to help decide which stories to post to social media
The bot, named Blossom, helps predict how stories will do on social and also suggests which stories editors should promote.
1287Jo Ellen Green Kaiser: Do independent news outlets have a blind spot when it comes to ethnic media?
The head of the Media Consortium argues that, by defining themselves in opposition to mainstream media, independent progressive outlets miss out on the power of ethnic and community journalism.
1029Newsonomics: 10 numbers on The New York Times’ 1 million digital-subscriber milestone
Digital subscribers are proving to be the bedrock of the Times’ business model going forward. How much more room is there for growth — and at what price points?
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Las Vegas Sun
Reuters
McClatchy
Examiner.com
PBS NewsHour
PolitiFact
Ars Technica
Financial Times
The Ann Arbor Chronicle
The Daily Beast
Semana
Press+