Seattle P-I Goes Down (That Is, Digital)

I know this sounds like flip-flopping (see my last piece on post-paper journalism), but after 145 years the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has ceased to be a print newspaper today, and that’s not necessarily good news. From the NYT:

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 had, and a site with mostly commentary, advice and links to other news sites, along with some original reporting.

Is it a race to the bottom? We can’t all be HuffPo. If the digital commentariat wants anything to analyze (or spin), someone must produce the reporting, vet stories and attempt to be neutral. Volunteer investigative reporting and citizen journalism are interesting phenomena, but I have some misgivings about how they compare in output and training to paid reporters. Does anyone know how much of that staff reduction is editorial?

It just seems as though the mechanisms by which news abroad and local have been professionally produced are being dismantled by a web medium against which there is no possible competition. I hate to sound like a scriptorium monk whining about the printing press, but maybe there is something to fear in the collapse of the MSM, however problematic and elliptical their coverage may be. They form a base layer of information in a world of information technology increasingly impenetrable and filled with subterfuge (witness HuffPo’s embarrassment over FoxNews hoax) and ignorant ideology (Barack Obama is a secret Muslim!).

One by one the giants fall. Readers, am I playing Chicken Little?

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