Too Soon for Digital-Only Newspapers?

As the battle between The Seattle Times Co., and its owner, The Hearst Corp. plays out, their is speculation of a digital-only future for the paper.

“Hearst has said the P-I’s continued existence is at stake. If it loses the arbitration, the P-I would find itself without the traditional newspaper underpinnings: no presses, warehouses, trucks or carriers. An online publication, however, would require none of the above. An online-only publication would be relatively inexpensive to run.”

But this thinking is not without challenges:

  • The P-I’s Web site doesn’t generate nearly enough revenue yet to support the paper’s current news operation. Hearst would face a choice between losing money for at least the first few years or putting out an online product with a significantly smaller staff.
  • Hearst would have to rethink and restructure the P-I from top to bottom before taking it exclusively online: Make it faster, more narrowly focused, more 24/7.