Blast from York Daily Record past


Someone sent me this link recently to our website way back at the time of its inception. Back when it was known as the York Digital Record, and my email address was spidr@ydr.com.

It’s fun to look at how we have changed, and how good we were even at that early stage.

And then there is this interesting note about how the web might threaten our future:

“Sorry, for the time being, we can’t offer complete daily news on this Web site, beyond the daily headline. You still have to buy a morning newspaper to get that. We hope you understand: It’s how we make our living, and the Web is not yet a money-making proposition. We just don’t have the staff to provide breaking news at this site.

We hope to expand what we can offer in the coming year. In the meantime, we will continue to post special packages of past coverage on selected topics in the coming months, so keep coming back. Feel free to suggest a subject by sending mail to spidr@ydr.com.”

That was written in 1996. If that note was a child, it would be old enough to drive now. And its reasoning has proven solid over the years.

You simply cannot produce a news website with the same resources you used to produce a daily newspaper. The resources complement each other, to be sure. And there is no better place to produce a local news website than out of a local newspaper’s newsrooms. The reporters and photographers and editors for the paper are the perfect people to provide a fresh, exciting, credible news website.

But something has to give. You either add resources or you divert resources.

We are trying to do both.

Today, everyone in our newsroom is a multi-platform journalist. We avoid old-fashioned, narrowly defined terms such as “reporter” “copy editor” or “photographer.” And no one works just for the newspaper. Everyone serves the community with news and information at whatever time makes sense and on whatever platform, or channel, makes sense.

We are truly a round-the-clock local news service. We have expanded well beyond what we were at the dawn of the World Wide Web.

We have committed ourselves to succeed in this new environment. Indeed, we embrace this change and the improvements it brings to our work. We continue to adjust our business model through new online advertising services and through online subscription plans. We challenge ourselves daily to learn and adapt and improve as modern journalists.

Looking back on that statement on our website in 1996, I see that this really was a challenge more so than an apology. It was a challenge to do whatever would be needed to:

  • Offer complete daily news on the website
  • To make the newspaper an option, not a limitation to our best efforts
  • To ensure that this operation remains a money-making proposition (because a free press has never been free).
  • To employ the staff needed to provide breaking news online
  • To expand our offerings every year

I would say we have risen to that challenge.

And I cannot wait to look back on this post in 16 years and see how far we will have come. It’s impossible to imagine.

About Randy Parker

Managing Editor, York Daily Record/Sunday News and ydr.com
This entry was posted in Behind the scenes, Blogs, Community engagement, Digital first, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Blast from York Daily Record past

  1. JT says:

    The web publication allows faster interaction with readers and sometimes save you from great embarassment when readers catch factual errors and they can be corrected before printing.

    That’s one reason why you should reward faithful print subscribers with unlimited online access bundled into their subscription price. You need those extra eyes.

    • Randy Parker says:

      JT: I agree that the immediacy and fluidity of online news allows for fixes to be made throughout the process. But truth be told, even that increases our workload. As we revise and rewrite articles throughout the day — either for breaking news or corrections — we are expending energy that had previously been focused only on efforts for the next day’s paper.

      We don’t want to charge print customers more for the print edition just to subsidize the rising costs of online efforts.

      We are building a business model that asks customers to pay for what they use. That should allow the market to determine how we evolve. If people refuse to pay for online news and flock to print, I am sure the business will follow those customers.

      Personally, I think we will see a hybrid win out. Print will be around for a long, long time. Perhaps for the next 100 years. But it will be designed for a small, focused audience of people who prefer the special advantages of a printed paper, which are many. Online, we will need to provide news and information in many ways to meet many needs.

      We can’t try to force old business models on new realities. Not if we expect to survive.

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