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Murphy: New Website Adding Online Opportunities For Daily Post

J.K. Murphy 

J.K. Murphy 

When I came out of school with a journalism degree, if someone had told me that ink on newsprint would be replaced before my newspaper career was over, I'd have scoffed.

But that was 30 years ago and what was once unthinkable is happening.

Let me be clear: I'm not writing off the printed newspaper. There's still a lot of life left. Things are transitioning, however, and the Post's readers are transitioning, too.

Each month about 290,000 unique visitors view 2 million pages on gwinnettdailypost.com. Some readers tell me the print version languishes on their driveway while they peruse the Post online.

The newspaper industry has been trying to figure out the business end of the online formula since the mid-'90s, the hurdle being the print newspaper business model operates with two revenue streams: advertising and sales of newspapers. We're selling advertising on our website, but it's tough to charge for content on the Internet because people think of the Internet as free.

Some newspapers are putting up paywalls, charging for full access to the news they produce, and I wish them success. At this point, the Post has no plans to charge for content. We prefer to attract audience.

Which brings me to my point. Earlier this month, we launched a new website, the goal of which is to attract a larger audience and keep them on the site for a longer period of time.

Under development for months, the new site adds slick features and enhancements. It's much cleaner and easier to navigate with better opportunities for photos and video. (We've also created a second site dedicated to Gwinnett high school sports. Check out gwinnettprepsports.com.)

There have been only minor glitches since the unveiling a week ago Wednesday and most reader comments have been positive.

But what I'm most excited about is the fundamental change in how the Post creates its online product. After outsourcing the bulk of our digital work for more than a decade, we've brought it in-house.

The Post and our parent company, Southern Community Newspapers Inc., have invested heavily in our online future. We now have a four-person IT team working fulltime on digital presentation. The end result is that we (the Post newsroom and advertising staffs with guidance from the IT team) have control -- no more dealing with a third party or forcing items into a pre-formed template. The expertise is in our building, not on the other end of a phone call.

Looking ahead, there are opportunities we have online that aren't available in print. The next is to enhance the capability and scope of our news archives. We have digital files of every local story appearing in the Post since 1995. Once the bugs are out of the new system, we'll begin to transfer those files to the new site, thereby placing some 75,000 local news and sports stories at the fingertips of our readers.

With solid integration and categorization of these articles, we'll build databases where the reader can go to find information on just about any local topic. It will be a great community resource.

The Post is already the online newspaper for Gwinnett County. We believe this archive database will also make us the online encyclopedia and online almanac for Gwinnett.

The goal is to become known as the site to go to for any and all information on Gwinnett County: news, events, history and data. We own much of this information from having gathered the news of Gwinnett for decades. The Internet provides the perfect platform to make this info accessible.

So when a sixth-grader needs to do a report on Button Gwinnett, she can come to our site. When someone wants to know Gwinnett's voting history in presidential elections or who was the mayor of Duluth in 1946 or the average rainfall in Lawrenceville, he or she can come to our site. We're not there yet, but we're feverish to get there as quickly as possible.

We're banking that readers will come to our website for the same reason they come to the paper -- local news and information. Local news is and always has been the Post's bread and butter. We're counting on that thirst for local news continuing regardless of whether we drop it on your driveway or dump it on your hard drive.

J.K. Murphy is publisher of the Daily Post. Email him at jk.murphy@gwinnettdailypost.com.