I have a theory-- and it's just a theory, based in nothing more than my own opinion and observation-- that the Herald is going to ultimately regret putting the State Employee Payroll online. Here's why: I think they're setting themselves up for a backlash. Sure, there's waste in state government. Some people are placed in jobs that don't really do anything, and they make a lot of money for it, and that's bad overall for the Commonwealth. But really, as a investigative newspaper the Herald is better off finding these cases and reporting on them, because by doing so they're going after overpaid hacks. And that's something everybody can identify with-- that's part of the 'us vs them' mentality that they're banking on. The readers are 'us', the overpaid hacks are 'them', and unless you're an overpaid hack, you really have no complaint.
When you place the entire state payroll online, you dramatically change the equation. Now, anybody who works for the Commonwealth is in the position of having anybody and everybody knowing precisely what their salary is. Is that legal? Sure. State payroll is public information. But by putting it all online the Herald has put themselves in the unique position going from being the underdog who roots out the corruption to being at best a gossip and at worst a bully.
There's only a finite number of people who know an overpaid hack. But chances are high that everybody knows somebody or knows somebody who knows somebody who works for the state-- and now they know exactly how much that person makes thanks to the Herald. Most of those people probably read the Herald. Will they continue to read the paper that's put their salaries online? I wonder. I wouldn't.