Wednesday, March 18


Ken Doctor has posted a well-written piece about the P-I's shift into cyberspace, but I disagree with it on a number of points.

The most important point is this: Doctor has utterly failed to recognize that the two daily publications, The Times and The P-I, have entirely different readerships.

There are two large media companies who happen to cover the same approximate geographical area, but they attract different readers. This is probably somewhat the result of the higher population density of that area combined with their general level of literacy. But the point is: different strokes for different folks.

Personally, I found the intensity of local hate-spewing invective and epithets during the shift very repugnant. Seattle has numerous publications, both online and in print, which offered commenting opportunities in reaction to the shift. I was rather shocked by the widespread loss of civility in discourse from the public residing there.

It's my impression that the differences in
readership enclaves may break down along these lines:

-- The P-I readership tends to be concentrated in the old city core; they tend to be younger, more wired and literate, more open to trying new things.

-- The Times readership tends to be more concentrated in the outer ring of suburbs; they may be older, more affluent (?), and lean slightly more to the Right.

-- I do not know any ethnic or religious details of their demographics or whether one group has more pets than the other, etc. The two groups may simply have different lifestyles.

The commenters making all the ugly noise seemed to be almost illiterate, lower middle class, but have an aspirational identification with the readers of the SeaTimes, who they perceive to be more affluent - a bit like the Hard Hats vs the Hippies during the Vietnam War.

These commenters, who seemed to be celebrating the "end" of the P-I, were also expressing the belief that the P-I people were stealing something from the Times people and that the P-I staff and readers should be punished and abused because they are criminals engaged in this mysterious theft. Many of these more illiterate commenters expressed feeling that they were victims of this mysterious crime.

I was baffled by the provenance of this weird belief, which I think should be more closely scrutinized, because it doesn't seem to make any sense in the light of day. It's like claiming that New Yorker readers are victimizing New York Magazine readers - huh???

:: Ken Doctor :: switch flipped ::