The new ‘soft parade’ revolution

Is the “soft parade” revolution finally starting in the newspaper industry?

Consider the following:

* New York Newsday announces it will create a pay-for-content system for its Web site, charging online readers for “packages” of news and features.

* The Seattle Post-Intelligencer prints its last edition this week. Instead, it will continue to cover Seattle online, in a product that will provide free content based on blogging, reader submissions and links to other sources.

* Staffers of the shuttered Rocky Mountain News gain financial backing and announce they will start an online venture IF they can get 50,000 Denver-area readers to subscribe for $4.99 a month.

Three new business models have emerged in the past month (two rising from the ashes of the failure of the previous one). Three petri dishes brewing in major markets.

We in the industry be watching these sites closely to see just how much they are accepted by their respective communities, as well as if they will deliver enough revenue to keep them afloat. We’ll also see if the executives on these sites give their plans enough time to catch on, as well as how well they market it.

But, if any one of these tests become successful, you can be sure there will be a mad rush to copy that revenue model throughout the country.

It’s sad that these test sites are finally launched as the result of a crisis. But when you think about it, that seems to be when journalists are at their best.

A footnote: NewWest blogger Jonathon Weber offers up his simple revenue model that he says works for him.


Death watch in Seattle

AP has an interesting story about Seattle facing the possibility of losing both its major daily newspapers. Read it here.

The Post-Intelligencer is considering going from print to online only, while the fate of the Seattle Times is uncertain. And although the P-I would retain an online presence, it would do so at a mere fraction of the labor it used to run the print operations. While noble in idea, the cutbacks may be a bit extreme to make the online P-I a viable voice for the community.

Losing a print edition to digital is not necessarily a bad thing. A community losing its voice, however, is.

UPDATE: TUESDAY, MARCH 17: Hearst made it official Monday. The P-I’s last edition is March 18. Afterwords, the P-I will be an online-only product.

While the move on face value isn’t as tragic as it may seem, there is a lot of worry just how the onlune P-I will continue to be the voice it was in print form. Only about 20 or so editorial employees are being retained for the new online venture. While they are focusing on the new mantra “Do what you do best, and link to the rest,” can 20 employees be enough to effectively cover a major metropolitan area?

We’ll see once the new is unveiled.