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Michael Wolff

Michael Wolff

Posted March 17, 2009 | 01:10 PM (EST)

The Old News Becomes New -- or Tries


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a terrible paper, will print its last edition today and then become an exclusively online product. Will it be a better Internet site than it was a newspaper?

That would not be difficult. The actual paper, with its 165 news employees, was a low-to-middling performer for local news and not in the game at all when it came to national news. True, it might not be so much worse than any other chain-run (the PI is owned by Hearst), 100,000-or-so circulation newspaper in the country. But that's merely to say that the overwhelming number of US newspapers gave up the ghost years ago. They've felt and looked like relics long before this past year, when virtually everyone acknowledged that formal status.

So online.

To date, the PI site looks terrible. If possible, it looks worse than the newspaper has looked. It looks like the newspaper looked in about 1965--hemmed in by lots of type. It's disorganized, unfocused, and agonizingly bland. Still, this isn't, theoretically, what the new product will be. What's on the site now still reflects what's in the paper. And there won't be a paper. What's there is the product of 165 news people and the news site will be the product of just 20 news people.

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