Seattle, the next great publishing giant (digitally, that is)
Move over, Big Apple: Emily Parkhurst of the Puget Sound Business Journal looks this morning at how Seattle is seizing the throne as the digital-publishing powerhouse. Not only does Parkhurst connect the dots that the New York Times alluded to in 2008, she gives a play by play of how Seattle-based tech companies adapted over the years to the digital age, while New York has clung desperately (and earnestly) to the print industry.
Seattle, to Parkhurst, ushered in the current age of how we experience every aspect of the publishing world from our morning news to how writers get published. With Microsoft’s launch of MSNBC News 20-odd years ago, we came to expect our daily news at the scratchy pop of a dialup connection on the ol’ Windows ’95. That has evolved, of course, to smartphones, tablets, and social media purveying online news sites like seattlepi.com, Geekwire and hot neighborhood blogs. And with Amazon as the great tycoon of buying books, selling books, reading (and carrying) books and, now, publishing books, (which has parlayed a stream of independent start-up small publishers in the 206), Seattle can safely say it has a lion’s share of the new publishing legacy.
But is just a piece of New York’s pie, enough? Though the future of digital publishing seems to only be the limits of a Seattle start-up’s imagination, will Seattle’s drive for fast press foster a true, time-tested industry?
Washington loses Patch news sites
This morning, AOL-owned community news operation Patch notified Washington state Patch staffers they would be let go, reports Geekwire. The Greater Seattle region will lose Mercer Island, Bellevue, Kirkland, Renton, Shoreline-Lake Forest Park, Sammamish-Issaquah, Edmonds Patch, and more.
In total, 15 writers and editors will lose their jobs; half of them today and the other half by October 15. The move comes as part of a company-wide shakeup to reduce costs and to increase profits. Launched in December 2007, Patch’s mission was to offer hyper-local news coverage for neighborhoods and be a forum for communities to engage that news. At its height, Patch offered 900 websites and its largest competitors were mostly local print weeklies.
“It was a bold experiment, really brilliant,” former Kirkland Patch editor Greg Johnston told Crosscut. “I think we were successful in proving its original mission could work, but just not make money.” Johnston, who quit the Kirkland Patch in May, wasn’t completely surprised by today’s news. After months of consolidations (one editor for two communities) and a bizarre recent public firing incident by owner Tim Armstrong, the only surprising thing was the complete shutdown of Pacific Northwest Patch sites.
Trouble in the forest
The Everett Herald reports today that on-going public meetings have been scheduled as tensions build over an unexpected controversy: Forest Service roads. Under pressure from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Forest Service is looking to shut down more than a thousand miles of roads that wind through the Mt. Baker–Snoqualmie National Forest.
These cost-saving measures probably would have gone unnoticed by the less-experienced hiker, and they sounded OK to wilderness advocates who wish to reduce traffic, waste and refurbishment of the National Forest. But in the rural logging town of Darrington, residents aren’t buying the cuts or the excuses. Point-by-point residents are drawing from their own experience to refute arguments for road closures. They say the decommissioning of roads will cost the Forest Service more money than would saving them. Residents point out that they already take care of neighboring Forest Service roads as part of the nonprofit Friends for Public Use. And what it will mean to the local timber economy? Don’t get them started. You can have your say, too, at the next public meeting. But you’ll have to go up to Darrington to do it. 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Darrington Community Center, 570 Sauk Ave.
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