News and Information for a Growing Region | Local Perspective
by Seth Cagin
Mar 18, 2008 | 773 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
You may think that Watch Newspapers already had a great website. I thought so, too. But in fact, we’ve been quietly working behind the scenes for months to bring something new to the Western San Juans. Our reinvented regional website went live this past weekend.

We are ready now to welcome you to HYPERLINK "" We look forward to your reaction.

Transitioning to the Internet age is a big challenge for newspapers, big and small. Our business model has been disrupted; our readers have changing habits and expectations. The only constant (I think) is that there still is and always will be a need for accurate news and information. How else can democracy function? The big questions that keep we publishers up at night as the ground shifts under our feet are how to produce and distribute accurate news and information, and no less important, how to pay for it.

Here at The Watch, we’ve been thinking hard about our mission and how to fulfill it in the years ahead. You have already seen some of the results: new editions serving Ouray County and Norwood, Nucla and Naturita, and the new Watch Regional Marketplace. We redesigned our newspapers – already recognized with an award for design excellence by the Society for News Design – in order to give graphic shape to our regional commitment. This week’s launch of our new website marks another giant step forward.

The designers of the new Watch website found an elegant way to give home page prominence to each of the three regional communities we serve, at the same time the home page presents itself as a source of regional news and information. The new site supports many of the features that today’s web user expects: rich media (including video), user-generated content like blogs and comments on stories, and robust searchability.

A few months back we hosted a study to which we invited web users to let us observe as they used our online classifieds, calendar and business directory. The new website incorporates what we learned, so that placing a free online classified and upgrading it to run in the Watch Regional Marketplace is now easier than ever. We also invite you to list your business online, and post events to our online calendar. Basic listings are free.

Newspapers are living organisms, periodic reflections of the communities they serve. Even more so, a successful newspaper website has to breathe. Dylan’s aphorism is true of no entity more than it is true of us today: If we aren’t busy changing, we’re busy dying. In that light, perhaps the most impressive attribute of our new website, we hope, is that it only begins to explore the new paradigm for delivering local news and information to a dynamic community. As we continue to evolve, we’ll be adding content, features and utility to our online publication.

At the same time, we remain strongly committed to print. The demise of traditional media has been often predicted, yet print remains an essential technology, largely because it is unsurpassed for ease of distribution and use. Our two magazines, Shelter and the Adventure Guide to the Western San Juans, are great examples of publications that address different segments of our regional economy, keeping pace with what readers and advertisers expect in the way of sophisticated media. Both will someday find a second home on the web.

In fact, we’re already working on it.
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