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Yes, the Web is changing us

It is a question I get often.

“What has the Web done to your business?”

It’s a question framed differently by people in our building.

“Wouldn’t we sell more papers if we didn’t put our news up on our Web site?”

The answer surprises most people.

Instead of diminishing the number of people who read our newspaper every day, our presence on the Web has almost doubled our audience. Stated another way, we had almost as many unique visitors to our Web site in December as we had subscribers to our traditional print product. Google Analytics follows the activities of our online audience, and reported to us that collectively, those unique visitors logged more than a half million page views or “clicks” on our site.

And studying those numbers has caused us to take two more electronic steps.

Beginning the first week of February, we will also deliver an electronic newsletter to email boxes each morning. The newsletter will give readers a quick overview of the headlines from which they can quickly link back to our Web site.

Our initial plan calls for us to deliver our electronic newsletter on the same days that we publish our newspaper – Tuesdays through Saturdays, although we also plan to alert members of our audience to breaking news in our community. We have collected more than 1,000 email addresses for our first “edition,” due out next week. Some of those are the email addresses of the registered users of our Web site, while others are addresses we have collected. If you’d like to make sure yours is on our distribution list, please email our office manager, Lisa Pickron, at lisa.pickron@andalusiastarnews.com.

Lunch, anyone?

Beginning next Monday, Feb. 1, we also will help our readers make lunch decisions with a weekday email listing lunch suggestions, including menus, of our advertisers. This email will be delivered about 10 a.m., the time most of our stomachs begin to call our attention to lunch.

Incidentally, if you receive either of the daily emails and don’t wish to get them, there is an opt-out link at the bottom. Clicking it can automatically remove you from the distribution list. Similarly, you can forward it to friends who might like to receive it and they can opt in to receive the daily headlines.

Facebook

For our readers who monitor the world around them via Facebook, we also have a page there that is updated every time our Web site is. We also will begin posting alerts to breaking news there.

Already, each of us who contribute to the collection of news for our product have found it a useful tool for tracking sources down and getting news tips. Our advertising staff members use the social networking site as another layer of communication with their clients. We are happy when you “friend” us.

Reading us via Blackberry or iPhone

For those who travel and read news with their mobile devices – a Blackberry or iPhone – that’s a little bit easier if you learn this address: http://m.andalusiastarnews.com. At this address, you’ll find a version of our Web site formatted for your handheld device.

Yes, electronic media has changed our business and will continue to do so. Thank you for reading us, whether you do so by holding our printed product in your hands, at your computer screen, or via a handheld device. We appreciate our subscribers and our Web audience.