Journal ramps up online presence

The future is digital -- and print

By By Helen Murphy    

GUYSBOROUGH – Back in 1996, the small team at this newspaper debated whether they should invest very limited resources in this new thing called email. That was when one of the staff positions was a typist. News items were sent by mail and typed into the one computer. Cutting and pasting had a more literal meaning then, as news stories and ads were printed out, trimmed, run through a wax machine to get sticky and then positioned onto large layout pages. Logos were physically pasted onto the ads.

Times have changed. And anyone involved in producing a newspaper the old-fashioned way is grateful.

While digital production has been the norm for most of The Journal's 23-year history, the paper had not prioritized its online presence -- until now.

The past week the Guysborough Journal launched its new website, which has evolved into an online portal for Guysborough County and the Eastern Shore. In addition to sharing top news stories without charge, the new site includes real-time Twitter updates, photos and videos, weather updates, local event listings and the editorial.

A new-format full digital version is also available, with a deeply discounted subscription of $25 a year.

"We want to make the online version as attractive as possible," says publisher Allan Murphy. "While we are still committed to our print product, we want to give our readers choice. The digital subscription has the benefit of being substantially cheaper and also immediate. There's no waiting for news from home."

As part of its new online presence, The Journal is working with a number of high school students in the role of video journalists. These students are producing video stories for the website to compliment news from the print edition.

"We're very excited about working with young people in the community to bring this new dimension to our storytelling," says Murphy. "And we welcome the opportunity to coach students, through paid work, in the development of new skills."

A full digital subscription comes free with every print subscription, "a choice that gives readers the best of both worlds," says Murphy.

Murphy says the online enhancement is also about positioning the local paper for the future. "It's no secret that it's very challenging to keep community newspapers going these days. And with the kinds of economic and demographic challenges we have in rural Nova Scotia, the struggle is even greater. Our hope is that providing more options for readers and connecting people more broadly with news, views and events close to home, we'll be helping to ensure that Guysborough County and the Eastern Shore have an independent, local paper for many years to come."