Replacing local newspapers

I have a copy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on top of my entertainment center. It's dated 2009-03-17. It was the last time I bought a copy of it.

It's the last time anyone bought a copy of it.

After that day, the Seattle PI became the first major newspaper in the country to go online only.

While the Seattle Times sill prints a daily edition, papers around the country -- from Boston to Denver to San Francisco -- are facing financial catastrophes. More papers will close in the coming years.

Neighborhood blogs are popping up in Seattle and doing some great work. My new favorite source for local news is the Capitol Hill Blog. The news stories are more relevant to my everyday life than most of the stories in the Seattle Times. They cover what's going on with my neighbors, and what's happening just down the street. It's a great source for information, and one of the few RSS feeds I read throughout the day.

Other neighborhood blogs have also popped up. Alki Point denizens have the West Seattle Blog at their finger tips, whereas residents of the Central District can surf over to the Central District News.

These bloggers don't just blather on like I do. They are doing real journalism. These neighborhood blogs fill an important niche and do a better job in the niche than the print PI ever could.

This allows an interesting model for the metropolitan newspaper website. With the proliferation of neighborhood blogs, the metro paper can take on the role of news agregator and mainly link to stories produced by the neighborhood blogs. With a limited reporting staff, that may be their only viable option. The SeattlePI.com is already moving in that direction.

And that wouldn't be too much of a change from the way many papers are already run. It seems the percentage of AP stories versus orignal content in local papers has already increased significantly over the past decade. They've already outsourced their national coverage, why not out source their hyper-local coverage?

There's a gap, though.

While the neigborhood blogs cover the neighborhood, and national media and wire services covers the national issues, what happens to coverage at the state and municipal level? The neighborhood blogs don't have the resources to do deep investigative work. Can we count on local TV news for that? The short format discourages indepth journalism.

As newspapers decline, I'm worried about coverage of the mid-size government and corporate entities.

But in the meantime, I'm glad to have found the Capitol Hill Blog. You can also follow them on Twitter @jseattle

How are the neighborhood blogs in your area?


Patricia Rockwell said...

Yes, I agree that print newspapers are going to disappear, leaving television news to do all the investigative reporting. This concerns me because everything I see on television news indicates that very little investigation is going on--unless it's investigation of Brittney Spears! Bloggers are great but simply don't have the money, resources, or time to dig deep into major issues.

Cromely said...

@Patricia Rockwell: It's going to be a big issue in the coming years.