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 firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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.