Friday, December 10, 2010

The production god is dead. Long live the Internet

As you know, it's been a hard but transformative week for the Freeman, having moved print production to Troy. Yes, our mailroom and press employees were let go as a result. I've know many of them for many years and it has been difficult to see them go.

But along with that difficult move comes a ray of inspiration. Our future is looking bright and I'm glad I get to be a part of it.

If you need a refresher, here's Publisher's Ira Fusfeld addressing our future and an illuminating interview by the Watershed Post with Managing Editor Tony Adamis, which addresses "how to make the transition from being a newspaper – which is a good thing to be -- to being a multimedia journalism company."

I'll let Journal Register Company CEO John Patton explain why we are doing what we are doing.

And here's New York University professor Jay Rosen and JRC adviser explaining the production routine.

One of the byproducts of this transformation for us has been an increase and timeliness on breaking news stories. Since the paper gets out earlier, editors and reporters working past production deadline can finally focus on news, rather than production. This means you get to know right away what has happened — say, a a city or county government meeting — right after it happens. Every reporter has been equipped with an Internet card for their laptops, enabling them to file directly from the field.

Furthermore, we are trying to refine and improve your experience with us on our site, on Facebook and on Twitter . And we are about to increase our offerings, both in print and online.

You might have noticed that we are now posting the police blotter (unsurprisingly the most popular story today).

Moreover, for one of my December Idealab experiments, I want to open up the site, big time.

I'm planning to have a daily Sound-Off, where I would pick three or four comments from our stories and then let you chime in if you want. I'm starting on this very blog—I want to see what kind of feedback we get with unmoderated comments — and then I'm planning to move it to our main site.


Almost half our traffic comes from the outside: Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, etc. Currently, one-time visitors who might want to comment don't, probably because they don't want to go through the hassle of registering. The idea is to allow people just to post comments after simply choosing a name. Moderation would still be operational, but it would be handled in a more timely manner. Ultimately, the best posts would be featured in print.

I've already talked to my higher-ups and are currently working on a system for moderation.

But before we do this, I want —need—your opinion.

What do you think?