This may come as a surprise to those of you who are new to politics or the Northwest: for a while, The Seattle Times was by far the local newspaper that did online content the best. Sure, it was mostly that they had a guy (Postman) who was willing to do a regularly updated, well written blog. It wasn’t like they had a brilliant strategy, they just sort of lucked into it, as evidenced by the fact that (a) it was just one guy and not the whole newsroom (b) they let him go and (c) since he left they haven’t come close to recreating it.
Still, when The Stranger and The P-I’s online content was just their articles, there was a lot of breaking news on the Times’ website mostly from Postman. The Seattle Times could have built on their lead. Instead, I go to what should be (and sadly, maybe is) their premier blog, Ed Cetera and it’s awful. It hasn’t been updated since May 28, so almost a week. Their supposedly weekly feature (that, yes, I was only on their blog looking for something to make fun of) was last written in April.
And look, it’s a rather different skill set, writing for a newspaper and writing online. While I think the general quality of the columns leaves something lacking, I fully admit that what they do isn’t in my wheelhouse. And nobody is asking them to do what we bloggers do, really. They still write for a family newspaper, so they don’t need to say “fuck” as much as me, and can deploy snark less frequently. Still, I don’t know how newspapers are going to survive if they neglect online content as much as The Seattle Times has.
And ultimately, I want The Seattle Times to survive. There’s no other outlet for investigative journalism of the same magnitude in the region. There’s nowhere else that can spark the same conversation across the region like the front page of The Seattle Times (not even TV, and certainly not blogs). But for that to survive in an increasingly online world, I think they have to adapt, and they haven’t yet.