The Seattle Post-Intelligencer is moving to an online only format. A fate that more and more are whispering could soon meet The Miami Herald. The P-I's transformation will be a bellwether as to whether or not a daily newspaper could successfully go online only. The New York Times indicates that the new site will be mainly a news aggregaters with less investigative journalism. Basically, newspapers will slowly turn into humorless Gawker or HuffPo looking things. Seriously.
But the P-I, as it is called, will resemble a local Huffington Post
more than a traditional newspaper, with a news staff of about 20 people
rather than the 165 it has had, and a site consisting mostly of
commentary, advice and links to other news sites, along with some
So let's entertain these whispers and wonder what an online only Miami Herald -- an Ayem Digitilus, if you'll excuse my faux-Latin. MiamiHerald.com gets roughly similar amounts of traffic as Gawker.com, the ever evolving blog that covers a mix of pop culture, media gossip, tech news, and politics. Data from Quantcast, which directly measures both sites based on their own metrics, and Alexa puts the site pretty much neck and neck in traffic [traffic graphs from both sites after the jump].
Gawker is able to finance an editorial staff that includes a whopping
seven people (with a reported eighth coming in to fill the void left by
the recently swallowed up sister site Defamer.com). Even Gawker is
having trouble: they've laid off two writers in the past few months,
and one of the remaining seven is part-time. Gawker's writers are
apparently paid well, but without benefits. They're also worked like
dogs, turning out funny little critiques and rehashes of other content (this is also what I do),
but do little original reporting. Let's not even get started on the
non-paid writers at the HuffPo.
So, assuming The Herald's web traffic stays steady in this
possible online-only future, you're looking at an editorial staff of
maybe a dozen if you're lucky, supplemented by wire reports, free
content by slave bloggers, and vanity columns for current and past
Gawker and HuffPo also has the advantage of not having a parent company seriously
in debt, plus in Gawker's case, the narrowly defined audience makes advertisers happy.
Basically, the models not there yet to finance an online only,
for-profit news source. Seattle is lucky that it still has one daily
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paper left, but if the Herald went online only, it would be a huge