The Seattle Post Intelligencer is on the verge of shutting down its print publication and will likely either move to a web-only publication or close down completely unless it can find a buyer.
I am not claiming I have all of the answers and I certainly have the luxury of not having all of the details about union contracts, future liabilities, etc., but it seems like there are a couple of things they could do to turn things around in the short term
1. Local Media Should Be Practicing Local SEO
Whenever I talk with a news organization I always ask them to imagine what would happen if someone like Shoemoney took over their brand. I don’t know SM personally, but I imagine he wouldn’t spend a lot of time cranking out the news. Big media brands like SPI have a lot of power in the search engines. In theory they could rank for any local search they want to, including very high value searches such as “seattle dui attorney” ($20+ CPC!). If I were them I would find someone who understands how to do local seo (hint, hint), launch a Seattle yellow pages and start ranking for some high value local terms.
2. Turn The Paper Into a News Bazaar
I know a journalist who started a blog while working at a big paper. The paper never got behind it and wanted him to stop blogging. Instead he cut a deal where he left the paper and got to keep the blog in exchange for sharing the content with them. The blog became a big deal and now the paper has no ownership in it. I have all of the respect in the world for journalists and we need them to be motivated to go after the good stories v. the good $, but given the state of the industry it may be time for more of them to take control of their own destinies. There are a number of stories of bloggers who have been both successful and able to focus on “good” journalism (e.g. Talking Points Memo which broke the attorney general firing scandal). If you think of the SPI brand as a marketplace or Kapalıçarşı, seems to me there is a model where enterprising journalists/bloggers can lease out a booth (e.g. Real Estate, Autos, etc.) and have a financial arrangement with the paper based on performance. Sure there would have to be some quality oversight (or not?) but if writers are publishing like their jobs depended on it, perhaps we would get no worse than what we are getting today, and we might even get better stories, as entrepreneurial writers seek to differentiate themselves by upping the quality of their work.