The Seattle P-I Moves Online Only, Let's Hope The Herald Doesn't Follow Quite Yet
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 has had, and a site consisting mostly of commentary, advice and links to other news sites, along with some original reporting.
So let's entertain these whispers and wonder what an online only Miami Herald -- an Ayem Digitilus, if you'll excuse my faux-Latin. MiamiHerald.com gets roughly similar amounts of traffic as Gawker.com, the ever evolving blog that covers a mix of pop culture, media gossip, tech news, and politics. Data from Quantcast, which directly measures both sites based on their own metrics, and Alexa puts the site pretty much neck and neck in traffic [traffic graphs from both sites after the jump].
Gawker is able to finance an editorial staff that includes a whopping seven people (with a reported eighth coming in to fill the void left by the recently swallowed up sister site Defamer.com). Even Gawker is having trouble: they've laid off two writers in the past few months, and one of the remaining seven is part-time. Gawker's writers are apparently paid well, but without benefits. They're also worked like dogs, turning out funny little critiques and rehashes of other content (this is also what I do), but do little original reporting. Let's not even get started on the non-paid writers at the HuffPo.
So, assuming The Herald's web traffic stays steady in this possible online-only future, you're looking at an editorial staff of maybe a dozen if you're lucky, supplemented by wire reports, free content by slave bloggers, and vanity columns for current and past public officials.
Gawker and HuffPo also has the advantage of not having a parent company seriously in debt, plus in Gawker's case, the narrowly defined audience makes advertisers happy.
Basically, the models not there yet to finance an online only, for-profit news source. Seattle is lucky that it still has one daily paper left, but if the Herald went online only, it would be a huge loss.