What the online P-I "no comments" list tells us

  1. Based on the list provided by the P-I, they’re essentially keeping the core of the current seattlepi.com website talent, including one current web geek and one former one (in Brian Chin).
  2. The only “high-end talent” they’re hanging onto is Joel “Crankypants” Connelly. That’s a bit of a surprise, given that he just about bit the head off West Seattle Blog’s Patrick Sand at the No News Is Bad News event.
  3. Don Smith is on the list, which is good news for the Reader Blogs.
  4. The sheer number of producers and editors (3 apiece) really hints at the “aggregation” model many of us thought might be the way forward.
  5. But while Andrea James and Joe Tarakoff are great business writers, they sure seem like luxuries within this vision of things. The business niche is already crowded with the Times and the Puget Sound Business Journal
  6. And right now, no investigative journalists, no city beat writers, and with Hector Castro declining an offer, only one potential general beat writer (Monica Guzman). My guess is that they’re going to let the hyperlocal bloggers do the city news and hire freelancers and rely on crowdsourcing to backfill anything they can’t do.
  7. They’re going to need a sales staff in a hurry, so if you’re a laid off salesperson with online ad experience willing to do startup work for startup pay, e-mail your cover letter and resume to michellenicolosi@seattlepi.com right now. But make sure you proofread at least twice before you send it in. She is a newspaper editor, after all.

On the whole, I’m not sure what to think. This is the core of seattlepi.com, but I’m not seeing the niches (other than business), and I’m doubtful charging for content (which Hearst has been discussing) is going to work without niche content. And while I know some of these people, and they’re all good, smart, web savvy journalists, and I really want this to work… this doesn’t look like a news site. This looks like the opposite of Crosscut — a strong and lightweight (and cheap) chassis but no compelling content. Crosscut struggled because of too much talent, not enough technical prowess, and a lack of understanding of how the web works. There’s serious technical prowess here, and everyone on the list not named Joel Connelly knows how the web works; will relying on the unpaid crowd, cheap freelancers, and the great cloud of local bloggers allow them to hang onto their 2,400,000 readers?

Bonne chance, guys. You’re gonna need a lot of it.

10PM UPDATE: Looks like a few more people are in the “no comment” group now, including a number of metro editors, photographer Joshua Trujillo, and a surprising name — managing editor David McCumber. But McCumber is suggesting he’s no-comment-for-the-sake-of-being-no-comment.

And for as critical as I was earlier, some of the newer details coming out — 20 person staff, startup mentality — sound really… familiar.

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