Technology has revolutionized every industry, but perhaps none more so than in communications, including newspapers.
From a production standpoint, nothing much changed from the time Gutenberg invented movable type in the mid-1400s until the 1950s and 1960s.
As a kid working in the family business, I still setup headlines one letter at a time from metal letters affixed to wooden blocks in the mid-1960s, just as Gutenberg did 500 years earlier.
Today, all of that is history. Photos are digital; typesetting is digital; layout is digital. And now, even the form newspapers appear in are moving toward digital distribution.
For over a decade, we have had a website (mainstreetnews.com) that has put some local news online for free. A couple years ago, we expanded that to have a series of linked websites attached to the various individual newspapers in our publishing group, along with sports, obits and public notice sites.
All of that has been very successful. We get hundreds of thousands of hits each month. But we only put up part of our news on the websites, not every article or advertisement that we publish in print.
That’s about to change. For a small additional fee to a regular subscription of $3.50 per year (or a stand-alone subscription fee for digital only of $20), readers can now subscribe to the full digital edition of the Barrow Journal.
Called an “e-edition,” this new service allows online readers to see the full newspaper on their computer screen just like it’s printed.
Why are we doing this?
There are several distinct advantages to making a full digital copy of the Journal available.
First, people from the area who now live outside the state often have difficulties getting a printed copy in a timely manner. USPS distribution tends to be slow in sending out-of-state newspapers; printed copies often take over a week to show up.
With an online electronic edition, that is no longer an issue as it’s available on Thursday right after Wednesday night’s press run.
But even for local readers, access to our online e-edition has several neat advantages that supplement the printed edition: • You will be able to click on a story and email that to other people. For example, you can send the photo and story of your child’s sports events immediately, just as it appeared in print, to Grandma in Oregon and Aunt Suzie in Florida with one click.
• You can print stories for yourself just as they appear, or in a text version. You can also see articles online either in graphic mode as they appeared in print, or in text mode.
• You will have access to back issues so that if you want to reread something from a month ago or six months ago, you can do that without having to find an older print copy. All recent Journal articles will be at your fingertips.
• You will be able to do a search of all editions by keyword. For example, you can search for your name in the current issue, or all the past issues.
• Taking that one step further, you can set up an “e-notify” notice that will send you an email anytime a keyword you enter appears in the newspaper. If you’re in the public eye (or you want to follow someone in the public eye), you can set the name or a business name to track. (For business people, this feature can also track local industry news. If you are a banker, for example, you could put the word “bank” in the notice and you would be notified every week of any article that had the word “bank” in it.) • For the seeing impaired, the website can read stories verbally through the computer speaker.
• Articles can be translated into several different languages.
• The e-edition will be available via computer, iPad and smartphones.
In addition to those features, there are several ways you can view articles online and scroll through all the pages in the newspaper.
This new e-edition doesn’t replace our regular websites where you can go for breaking news and to make comments on key stories.
Until July 13, you can try the new e-edition for free at barrowjournal. com/eedition.
Give it a try to see how newspaper delivery is evolving in this new digital age.
Mike Buffington is co-publisher of the Barrow Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.