Seattlepi.com has hired a new writer to replace Monica Guzman, the prominent reporter who led the web site's Big Blog.
Amy Rolph, a business reporter for The Daily Herald in Everett, will join the online site's staff in mid-July. Among other duties for the Everett paper, Rolph, who had been a reporter for the old Post-Intelligencer, currently writes for The Storefront, the Herald's small business blog.
The hire could indicate Hearst'ês willingness to keep Seattlepi.com going. A recent story in Crosscut by Bill Richards questioned the future viability of the site. As reported by Richards, Seattlepi.com'ês reporting staff numbers just 17 and the site is not profitable.
But the addition of Rolph could suggest continued interest by its owner, the Hearst Corp., in maintaining its Seattle presence. Rolph fills an absence left by 27-year-old Guzman, who joined the start-up Intersect in June. Guzman developed and ran Seattlepi.com'ês quirky, gossipy Big Blog, and developed a name for herself around town as a social media guru. Recently, Guzman won Seattle Weekly's award for the town's "Sexiest Blogger."
Since Guzman's departure, 24-year-old Hearst fellow and Seattlepi.com staff member Humberto Martinez has been in charge of Big Blog duties. As a Hearst fellow, Martinez spends eight months at three different company newspapers. His fellowship at Seattlepi.com comes to an end in late summer, and Martinez isn't aware yet if he'll be asked to stay on the staff or not. "I'm not holding my breath or assuming permanence," Martinez said in an e-mail.
Martinez said he believes Rolph will be taking over the Big Blog, but he can't speak for certain on that subject just yet. Other Seattlepi.com staff members deferred to executive producer Michelle Nicolosi, who is currently on vacation and not responding to email.
Rolph said that she;d rather not discuss details of her new gig with Seattlepi.com until she finishes up at The Herald. She is slated to start at the P-I on July 12.
Prior to joining The Herald, Rolph covered breaking news, politics, and higher education for the Post-Intelligencer until it ceased print publication in 2009. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, she edited The Daily, the campus newspaper. On her web site, www.amyrolph.com, Rolph says she is currently working toward her Master of Communication in Digital Media at the UW.
A version of this article appeared earlier on the Washington News Council's web site.