Sucked into the web

The Washington Post is losing two veteran political hands to an online startup. It’s not quite a case of reporters becoming independent journalists/bloggers. The venture is backed by Allbritton Communications.

There’s some irony in the departure of John Harris, the Post’s political editor, to the web, considering the kerfuffle he had with And Harris himself makes the point that he’s not abandoning print. Says Kit Seelye in The Times:

It is too soon to say whether the departures of Mr. Harris and Mr. VandeHei are early evidence of a migration by veteran print journalists away from ink-on-paper reporting. “No one should interpret this as people are taking flight from the old media,” Mr. Harris said. “This is a time, obviously, of change and unquestionable anxiety for the news business as a whole, but neither of us felt anxiety about our roles or pessimism about the robust future of The Post.”

  • Jeff, you have to admire reporters and editors that allow the word
    “shitstorm” to hit the fan. (As The Guardian does in it’s report that moved at 6 p.m. yesterday – five hours ahead of the NYT.

    This is an interesting phenomenon to watch: former print journallsts becoming more fully-trained.

  • Roy

    Other than my wife’s 78 year old Grandmother, I don’t know anyone who reads print newspapers anymore. I can read my local paper, the NYT, and WSJ online. I only get newspapers when we have a new puppy.

  • Don’t buy the hype … this is a print start up with a Web site. Same old.

    From the NYT story:

    The Washington Post, which has long prided itself on the depth and breadth of its coverage of national politics, lost two of its top political reporters yesterday to a fledgling multiplatform news organization, albeit one with deep pockets.

    John Harris, The Post’s political editor, and Jim VandeHei, a national political reporter, said yesterday that they were leaving The Post to join Allbritton Communications to create an Internet-focused news organization, as yet unnamed, that will include a politics-only Web site. It will be affiliated with the company’s new newspaper in Washington, The Capitol Leader, which is to start print publication in January.

    Multiplatform … print publication …

    Sounds like an acknowledgement that online still can’t make enough money to support quality journalism without print …

    There’s probably lots good reasons for this job change … but don’t tell me it’s further evidence that print is dead. That’s hardly the case (not that you are, but close, and other bloggers are)

  • True, Howard, but a lot of discussion around this print/online cash situation at the recent ONA CitJ Summit centered on that most local advertisers haven’t caught up to the audience yet and are the farthest behind in this whole transition area.

    All these web startups with companion print pieces, e.g., are cashing in with print because the local advertisers either aren’t appreciating the value of online advertising or find it too cumbersome to get into and manage. They are comfortable seeing the print ad and have legacy experience that give them the good vibes when they hold it in their hands.

    The trick for the hyperlocal onliners, and newspapers online especially, is to manage the online campaigns for those advertisers and educate them to help them get over the hurdle. Mom and Pop are just as vulnerable to Internet challenge as traditional print, and the competing big box chains have big marketing divisions to help them out… which is why national ads cashed out of small market papers and went straight to inventory reseller programs like doubleclick and google long ago.

    While there is going to be some back and forth in these transitional years with web/print doubleteaming, the motion out of print is clear. Awareness and comfort will grow and the fittest will survive, those that ignoe it will simply see their sphere of influence continue to contract.

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