As I write this, the top story at the new online-only Seattle Post-Intelligencer, as it has been for at least 12 hours, is a photo of a cute puppy and a headline and blurb that link to a six-sentence blog item about adopting that and other puppies.
The No. 2 story on the home page is a headline that links to a five-sentence blog item about the state revenue forecast. That blog item quotes The Associated Press, but there is no link to more information.
The No. 3 story is a headline that links to a four-paragraph AP story about how it's illegal to bet on basketball tournaments in Washington.
Under the section listing items from the Seattle 911 blog, a headline: "Feds hit WaMu." (Um, that's a 911 call?) This links to a one-paragraph blog item, which, in turn, links to the Seattle Times scoop about the grand jury investigation of Washington Mutual.
My points are these:
- Someone had two months to plan a first-day showcase piece of Web journalism and didn't. It didn't have to be a big thing, but it did need to be a thoughtful thing, something that showed off the new mindset. Everyone hoped that new mindset would be something fresh and surprising, and everyone feared it would be more photos of fashion and animals.
- If aggregation is going to be a key service of the site, the producers better learn how to do it. This means not making me click twice to get to a story, and it means total transparency about where the one click takes me. Not to brag, but here's how it should be done.
To be sure, we need to give SeattlePI.com a chance, but on day one our worst fears were realized and the staff is clearly winging it.
Update: Fellow former newspaperman Glenn Nelson has a similar reaction.