Speaking of Civic Discourse
Where can bloggers, cranks, passionate newspaper readers, techies, politicos, journalists, and editors all get together and debate the future of the Seattle media scene?
Which, in a way, helps prove a point I was trying to make in the article that led to all this discussion: Online discourse is the future of civic discourse.
As I’ve learned, it’s also the future of uncivil discourse. There’s someone in the comments called “20 Questions” who posted a late-night analysis of my motivations in writing the P-I piece. The analysis would be very juicy if it were true. But here’s the only thing that “20 Questions” gets right: Yes, I did work at The Seattle Times a while back. I was a summer intern, and then something they called a three-year resident. There was a big newspaper strike while I was at the Times, and my residency didn’t end the way most people (including me) thought it would.
But the result presented in the comment—”nervous breakdown,” etc.—is way more exciting than the reality. The reality is that I started freelancing and working on some non-journalism projects, and I now work full time at The Stranger. So readers of the comments, let it be known: I’m not broke. I’m not desperate for a job. I’m over all the stuff with the Times, which was years ago. If unconscious resentment lingers, I’m not sure how that would affect my thoughts about the P-I. And anyway, these days I’m far more interested in how technology is going to impact the future of the media.
Below is an email from a loyal P-I reader who’s interested in the same subject, and who makes a point that I think will probably keep this discussion going:
You’ve hit upon exactly what I’ve told the folks at the P-I again and again…go straight to the web and lose the presses. Your workforce can do most of their jobs via the web and video conferencing, so lose the big-ass building and all the overhead that goes with it, too. They’d be leaner and meaner and still better than the Times.
The P-I is head and shoulders above the Times in so many areas (most of all, timeliness…I can read an article in the P-I sometimes THREE days before the Times stumbles across it) that I would love to become an online subscriber. I read them 6 days a week that way already, so no big deal there. Their website could be beefed up if they switched to full virtual mode, and it ain’t such a skimpy thing right now.
I’d be thrilled, and it would be so appropriate for the P-I to lead the way into the next wave of news”papering”.