I might be letting the cat out of the bag a little early, or I might be putting my foot in my mouth. Either way, I simply can’t resist writing about it. To me it feels like I am watching history unfold before my eyes–the changing of a paradigm.
As you may know, The Courier Herald completely changed our website in July and went to a new digital edition model for our website. This shift came as the result of a lot of brainstorming and research on the part of our general manager.
We did not make this change lightly. Shifting the focus of our website from what was the industry standard just five or six years ago into what we believe will be the industry standard one or two years from now was a difficult transition. As with any new venture, there was worry and trepidation. Still, we had a vision of what we thought we should do, and we stuck to it.
The result of that vision is The Courier Herald Digital Edition, which offers readers a digital, interactive version of the printed paper. We created a dual format system, one for quick scanning and one for extended reading. We offer a printable pdf of the daily Crossword Puzzler and, most recently, digital archives stretching all the way back to the middle of 2007.
We bit the bullet and it has paid off. Our website now has hundreds of subscribers and over 3,400 free account holders. The benefits for our free account holders include the ability to submit content online, blog, view online classifieds, read special sections, view our monthly House Hunter and use our business directory to find the goods and services they need.
For our online subscribers, the benefits are even greater. The digital edition gives them the same exact content as print edition subscribers for the same, low price of $10 per month. It’s the full experience of reading our newspaper, now delivered through the Internet.
But that’s only a part. The reason for my excitement is that yesterday I saw a video of the new Sports Illustrated on a touchscreen tablet. This new product, a completely new file format, is being developed by five major publishing companies including Time and News Corp.(The parent company of Fox News) and is poised to be released next year.
It’s the publishing and newspaper industry’s version of what the release of the iPhone was to cell phones. Before the iPhone, flip phones were the hot item. After the iPhone, the new “smart phones” became the norm. With the release of this new digital format, geared towards touchscreen computers, netbooks and tablets, the game is about to change.
What makes this so exciting is that our new digital edition, which debuted in July 2009, is already touchscreen, netbook and tablet compatible. The quick viewer format on our website will already flip pages at the touch of the finger or the touch of a mouse, and our PDF format is readable on most of the current digital bookreaders that are on shelves now, and will also work with these same interfaces.
The new Sports Illustrated is amazing, and they have the money to have more video and photos than a small, local paper. But what this small, local newspaper does have is the foresight to be touchscreen-ready nearly six months ahead of the curve.
So if you want to see the future, go online and search for “Sports Illustrated Tablet,” and watch the video of their future digital format. As you watch, though, I want you to think in the back of your mind: “My hometown newspaper’s digital edition already works on a touchscreen too!”
- Jonathan Dye