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Newspapers: The future is now

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By Geoff Hamill

Changes are coming to almost all businesses in today’s world, and the economy is behind many of those changes. We see people doing things differently in the way they provide services, and often, those changes are not for the better.

In our business here at The Springfield Sun, we realize we are part of a very different industry these days than just a few years ago. In fact, things are changing by the minute in the newspaper business in our country and even around the world.

In Stockholm, Sweden, the world’s oldest newspaper, the Post-och Inrikes Tidningar, is now only published on the Internet. That change came on Jan. 1 for the newspaper that was originally founded in 1645.

In 2008, The Capital-Times of Madison, Wis., announced it would no longer publish a daily paper, but would instead make the move to the Internet. The paper now publishes two weekly tabloids in addition to the on-line version, which replace the daily editions of the paper.

In Michigan, some other changes came as the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News have announced moving toward digital editions with decreased publication of print editions on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. For the rest of their services to the communities, these papers are planning digital information channels that will provide news and information to its readers.

These moves are among the first in the newspaper industry, but they will not be the last.

While we are looking at some changes here at The Sun, we will not be doing anything so drastic as eliminating the print edition of our newspaper. However, we do want to use the Internet to better serve our readers in Washington County, as well as anyone around the globe who might want to know more about what’s going on in our community.

With this week’s edition, which is the first of 2009, we will continue to work hard to provide news and information to our readers in print, as well as adding more information on our Web site. One of the services we plan to offer in 2009 is more updated news each day, and not just once each week when a new print edition of The Sun is released. We are a weekly newspaper, but we want to take strides toward being a daily news source with our Web site.

In our weekly edition, for example, we publish obituary information of those who have died in the past week. Often, by the time this information can be delivered in print, the visitation and funeral for the deceased is completed. We often hear comments from readers who say they wish they had known sooner so they could have visited the funeral home or sent flowers. We have tried to respond to this request by working with the two local funeral homes to provide information as soon as it is available, and not just in the print edition of the paper once each week. Both have agreed to work with us and help us offer this service, and we look forward to passing it along to you, our readers.

Our Web site has seen some changes in recent months, and while we have received mix reviews about the new look, we feel it offers more to readers now than in the past. Visitors to our site can now find updated news and opinion pieces, sports scores and highlights, as well as photo slideshows and even video clips from events in the community.

For those who may fear they will miss something important in the community, they can sign up for our breaking news service. We have tried to offer this service in the past, and it has been a success, but now the service has been perfected, and readers can receive news updates to their e-mail, cell phone, or just about anywhere they might go. When visiting our Web site, simply scroll down the right side of the site to the “Breaking News” section, sign up, and you, too, can receive the latest local news delivered to you free of charge. This service is offered free of charge to our readers and is sponsored by St. Catharine College.

We have added a new Web address, www.readthesun.com, as well as keeping our old one, www.thespringfieldsun.com, and either will take you to our site. Regardless of how you get there, we encourage you to visit our site and follow local news each day.

Thanks for reading The Sun, and let us know if you have suggestions for how we can make the newspaper or the Web site even better.