Tonawanda News

Columns

October 5, 2011

DUVALL: Taking the News anywhere

— — You may have noticed the house ads that have been promoting a new online venture that our newspaper is undertaking, but I thought a full explanation might be in order.

It is called our eEdition (that would be pronounced with two Es, not just a long E) and it allows subscribers to access our print product in its entirety on any computer or smart phone.

The eEdition provides readers with a traditional newspaper reading experience online. Each page is presented in facing-page format exactly as it appears in print but as a searchable, fully linked PDF. In addition, a new mobile portal is available for smart phones utilizing this service and it delivers the actual pages as touchable links to complete stories once you’ve created an account.

In addition to the sleek presentation, there are other features that will make the eEdition attractive to tech-savvy readers. The front page is emailed directly to you as soon as it is uploaded by our prepress department and will be waiting in your inbox when you wake up. You can also set up an RSS feed so you don’t even have to come to the site to see what’s on it.

You can also download any edition to eReaders like the Kindle and the Nook to bring with you throughout the day.

You will also be able to search any archive issue starting from the day you purchase your subscription and bookmark it for return trips. (Imagine, for instance, being able to pull up your daughter’s wedding announcement or your grandson’s birthday photo on your iPhone to show people.)

There are several things that appear in our print product that subscribers get and readers of tonawanda-news.com do not. There has been a long and intense debate about how much content a community newspaper like this one should post for free online and how much we should reward print subscribers with the content we don’t.

There is, after all, a difference between a print subscriber and an online reader. Subscribers tend to spend more time with the paper, leafing through page to page, pausing to read whatever catches their interest. Website readers only stay on the site for about 2 minutes on average and access the highest valued readership areas like police reports and obituaries with the greatest frequency. There is a portion of online readers, though, who would prefer to read like a print reader and websites can prove a little frustrating if that’s your goal. As it was once put to me, you can’t carry a website over to your favorite chair and sit down to pour over it (though with tablets and lightweight laptops, that is certainly changing). With the eEdition, those who seek that in-depth experience can get it (though it’s your job to figure out how to do so in your favorite chair).

When I started working here, full obituaries were not posted online and we held certain stories off the website to offer an incentive for single copy and subscription purchases. As the Internet has become a primary information source for many people our thinking has evolved; we now post all byline stories and full obituaries online. We work to make the website a primary source for disseminating immediate information and it has grown into a fantastic tool to help us meet our core mission of informing the public. We augment that with a Facebook page that seeks to engage readers in a conversation — sometimes serious, sometimes lighthearted — about the news of the day.

We remain committed to our print subscribers and the eEdition allows us to expand that group to those who prefer to use the Internet and agree that the full compliment of content we provide is worth paying a nominal fee to access. Many of you reading this online are doing so from locations outside our delivery area, many of you from out of state, and heretofore have been unable to access things like engagement, marriage and birth announcements, community news, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, comics and the like. The eEdition makes this possible.

With a newspaper industry struggling to turn a profit in a changing information age, the eEdition is the closest thing yet to helping bridge the Internet divide. The web has allowed us to expand our reach and transform our news cycle from daily to all day long, but is also increasingly responsible for a problem with the bottom line. For a reasonable fee, readers can now get all the convenience of the online experience while still supporting a community institution that’s 131 years old and counting.

Fees online are comparable to the print subscription rates and those of you with print subscriptions can get a full year’s membership for just $3.65 (yes, that would be a penny a day). A free week’s trial is available (and no, it doesn’t do the thing where it automatically charges you if you forget to cancel it — I hate that too). I would encourage all of our regular readers to check it out. Click the eEdition link found at the top of the navigation bar on www.tonawanda-news.com.

And, as always, let me know what you think. Your feedback will help us to better meet your expectation of delivering valued community news, no matter the medium.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com.

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