By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Website changes, but newspaper still print

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Fair warning to those who read the News-Register online: Dramatic change is coming next week in the design and functionality of our newspaper website, and a lot of you won’t like it!

At least, not at first.

The reality is, people don’t like change. Despite some obvious shortcomings, our long-standing N-R website features simple, visible accessibility to all manner of news and community information. It’s a comfortable, consistent information source for users who have learned where to find the content that interests them.

We think readers will warm up to various changes, and we hope they will embrace the improvements. We will listen to comments from readers, staff and advertisers, and immediately begin to fine-tune the new website, but the new look and functionality will be here to stay.

One reason for change is the dramatic growth in people entering our website with smart phones and tablets. This number, less than 20 percent two years ago, approaches 40 percent today. This change compels many website operators to update sites from “mobile-ready” to “mobile responsive,” with content display automatically adjusting to whichever device tunes in.

Another reason is the marketplace. People have come to expect bolder display, larger images and compilation of content better suited to mobile devices. For us, in months to come, that means working with other vendors to convert specialty online content into mobile-responsive display.

Meanwhile, with little fanfare the past two years, we have registered about 2,000 subscribers to our News-Register website. Most of these people are newspaper subscribers who get free online accounts, but a number are buying online-only subscriptions.

Some believe this kind of project symbolizes an inexorable move toward elimination of print. Maybe so, but not in my lifetime. For almost all community newspapers such as the News-Register, website revenues remain almost negligible in a business model still overwhelmingly tied to print.

Readers of community news might still prefer the tactile nature and permanence of print. But more and more, that model must be augmented with on-the-go access, archive searchability and diverse opportunities for reader interactivity.

The Internet expands our reach and strengthens the identification of our business, cultural and institutional role in the community. That’s why we keep moving forward in the world of digital media, but never forgetting that our business still revolves around print.

Oh, and by the way, next up will be a redesign of the printed News-Register. More to come on that.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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