Dead meat or baby phoenix?

When people talk about the print-to-digital transformation, they usually do not use the phrase as literally as it applies to the Kentucky Post/ situation. The last ink-and-pulp edition rolled off the presses on New Year’s Eve morning, and in its place former readers will find

To call the staff “skeletal” would be an insult to the strong and complex undergirdings of the human body. According to the AP (in a story accessed through Yahoo News), has a managing editor and one reporter. Plus freelancers, wire copy and news content from sister TV station WCPO. The work of a team of “citizen journalists” will also be featured. [No illegal alien journalists allowed, I guess].

As the author of a blog entry titled, “First Thing We Do, Is Kill All the Newspapers,” I am in no position to mourn the passing of a daily newspaper (though I hope its staff members find jobs. Idea: Learn CSS, XHTML, Ajax and Flash and you’ll double your newspaper salary overnight).

But I do wish that the overlords at E.W. Scripps and Co., who prudently pulled the plug after a joint publishing agreement with Gannett was not renewed, would invest in a few real journalist positions–at least (say) two reporters and one editor for each of the three counties the site intends to cover.

I’d like to believe that it’s possible to structure a legitimate, even occasionally powerful, local news operation around a Web-only product, funded entirely by advertising and some shadowy forms of monetization that lurk in the corners of the digital realm.  But testing the commercial viability of digital-only journalism with a team as puny as the one puts on the field isn’t fair.

Assuming the effort disintegrates into trivia or simply closes down in a year or so, the news retrogrades and midcentury sentimentalists will point to the episode as disproof-of-concept for digital-only journalism. They’ll be wrong. It will disprove only that a sadly underfunded digital-only news effort can’t make it in today’s media environment.

I will be rooting for the’s staff of two. I’d love to see them do some important work, engage the community, make some civic-minded trouble and generate enough revenue to add a few staffers. I’d love to see them draw an appreciative and energized audience. I hope they can pay their mortgages.

But just in case, I hope they have time to pick up some CSS, XHTML, Ajax and Flash along the way.

Explore posts in the same categories: journalism, news, print-to-digital

2 Comments on “ Dead meat or baby phoenix?”

  1. “Real” journalists are generally what’s killing newspapers.

    I was just pondering at lunch how easy it would be to have an entirely blog based online newspaper. Specifically one that is WordPress based. Talk about low barrier to entry.

    Learning CSS, XHTML, Ajax, Flash is unnecessary. Somebody else already has done it and would just love to give it away.

  2. Craig Stoltz Says:


    Thanks for the note.

    I should point out that I haven’t learned any of those exotic technologies either. As my own homely, hand-rolled web site illustrates, plain-old HTML is more than I can handle. –cs

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