Seattle is fast becoming a testing ground for online news ventures. A group of ex-Seattle Post-Intelligencer staffers who lost their jobs when the paper went online-only last month have launched a competing local news site, Seattlepostglobe.org. Staffers are working without pay for now and the group is trying to raise money by selling ads and soliciting donations. Local alternative paper Seattle Weekly is taking care of ad sales, while local PBS station KCTS-TV is providing office space.
Readers are encouraged to give $240either in a lump sum or in monthly installmentswhich the group says is the price of a newspaper subscription. The pitch on the site: "You never had a say when our old paper, the Seattle P-I, closed its print edition. You never had a say when a decision in a boardroom in New York City meant fewer journalists would be watchdogging your city government ... Now's your chance to be heard." So far, according to The Seattle Times, the group has raised $3,000. Kery Murakami, who has led the effort, says it would be "nice" to get 8,000 people to donate $10 a month. If Seattlepostglobe.org cannot raise that much, Murakami says that the site will either "do less or pay less." The donation model is slightly different than other similar initiatives, like the St. Louis Beacon or MinnPost.com, which ask for lump sums, corresponding to different donor levels.
A second group of former Seattle P-I staffers is also expected to start a new site in the coming weeks, to be called InvestigateWest. It will focus on investigative and narrative journalism.
The new sites will compete with two other online-only news publications in the city for ads and traffic. P-I owner Hearst Corp. continues to run Seattlepi.com as a local news website, albeit with a much smaller staff. And Crosscut, a not for profit, also runs regular commentary and analysis on local news.
By Joseph Tartakoff