Thursday, April 24, 2014

We choose to go to the moon


February 22, 2011 | 17 Comments

Today, The Davis Enterprise launches a new community journalism effort and declares its independence from the confines of a struggling newspaper business.

Today, we flip the power switch on a decade-old computer system that routinely has limited our ability to reach out to and interact with the Davis community.

Today, we join a revolution of community news organizations dedicated to reinventing a  journalism that is sustainable in the 21st century.

Today, we write and edit live on the Internet, and post photos that we publish in the newspaper hours, or even days, later.

Today, we become not just a newspaper, but a news organization.

For too long, we have shied away from the growing relevance of digital journalism and treated our website as the red-headed stepchild to the favored newspaper. We geared our entire mindset toward the printed newspaper and, almost as an afterthought, happened to dump that news online.

No more. Today, we invert that dynamic. We’ll publish to the Web first, getting the content to you as it’s created. Later, we’ll pluck the best stories and the best photos and put them in the newspaper; you’ll have to go to the website for audio and video.

Our editors may have space only for a short story and one or two photos in the newspaper. On the website, however, we’ll showcase the longer version and give you a dozen, maybe even two dozen, photos.

Two products. Equal weight.

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The Internet is faster, so we’ll use that to get you news as we write, shoot and record it. The Web also allows us to better categorize the news. Using WordPress, we can zoom in on specific areas and give you every story categorized as “Jeff Christian,” “Picnic Day” or “Amgen Tour of California.” We then can create a new offshoot web page and readers can see those stories as they evolve over time, any time.

A newspaper has a one-day shelf life. The web, on the other hand, lives forever.

However, the newspaper gives us something to hold, flip through and feel. We’ll continue to give you that treasured product, too.

But in both, our community will be our core, our mission and our why — to provide you with the relevant information you need to improve your life. Should you pay $10 for that movie ticket? Should you vote for that guy? We give you the information you need to act.

And we’ll give you a louder voice. Unlike our old site, reader comments live with a story forever. Readers can unite, engage, disagree and debate with a back-and-forth dialogue that will spur our community.

That all exists right now. But the future, too,  is pregnant with possibility. Imagine mini homepages featuring hyperlocal news from neighborhoods around Davis. Like Sacramento Press, an online-only news publication in Sacramento, we can hold workshops, in-person and online, to train residents in citizen journalism.

These embedded journalists in Elmwood, Wildhorse, Mace Ranch and El Macero will funnel content into via WordPress. As soon as it’s uploaded, our editors, whether at Mishka’s or in Milan, can give it a quick edit and — boom —  you have The Davis Enterprise, Wildhorse Edition.

As online editor, I’ll set the tone, provide the vision and help readers understand the power behind this new tool. Comment on this story — or any story — and I will see it. I will respond. We all will.

The Davis Enterprise has lagged, but today we make a strong commitment and take a giant leap into digital relevancy. It is a commitment made over the past five months by everyone at The Enterprise, over and over again.

Lag? Yes. Out of it? No.

The United States, too, lagged  behind the Soviet Union in the space race.

On a hot day in mid-September 1962, President John F. Kennedy stood before a crowd at Rice University in Houston to talk about the role the United States would play in space exploration.

Before Kennedy’s election to office in November 1960, the Soviets were the first to launch a satellite into space, the first to send a living creature into space, the first to take photographs of the dark side of the moon. A few months after his inauguration, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space by orbiting the Earth.

Less than a week later, the Bay of Pigs invasion rocked the Kennedy administration.

Six months later, in Houston, the president did not fumble. He did not mince words. He did not shy away.

“We have had our failures, but so have others, even if they do not admit them,” Kennedy said. “And they may be less public.

“To be sure, we are behind, and will be behind for some time in manned flight. But we do not intend to stay behind, and in this decade, we shall make up and move ahead.”

The newspaper industry, too, has made mistakes and had failures as the world has evolved at what the late president called “a breathtaking pace.” For Kennedy, that pace included television, nuclear power and spaceships. For us, it’s been the Internet, e-mail, cell phones, smart phones, apps and digital tablets.

So we accept the challenge and embrace the opportunities posed and offered by the digital journalism frontier.

We mean to be a part of it. We mean to lead it.


Discussion | 17 comments

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  • Bernie GoldsmithFebruary 23, 2011 - 4:06 pm

    Hey John! I love the new website! I've been a subscriber for over a decade, but between the bulky, wrinkly old-media newspaper and the terrible website, I didn't get a chance to read it more than once or twice a week. Because of this, I've been eagerly awaiting the website upgrade. Within a few minutes of your launch, I coded up a script to download the entire daily edition of the Enterprise, convert it to a format readable by my Kindle, and wirelessly transmit it to my reading device, all automatically! Now I can read the Enterprise on my device like I do the New York Times, the Sacramento Bee, and the Financial Times. (I read a lot of newspapers). While I have set up my computer to do this for me, I'd still be willing to pay for the service. Others who are not so technically adept might also appreciate the option of receiving their subscriptions on their kindles. Since your newspaper is now online in a format which can be effortlessly converted for mobile reading devices, why not make a monthly subscription available through the Amazon store? I'd like to show you some time what the paper looks like formatted on a kindle. Absolutely thrilled I'll be able to read your paper more often and in more ways, Bernie

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  • Walt LucasFebruary 23, 2011 - 9:32 pm

    Way to go Jonathan. You must be a busy, busy guy. Good luck.

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  • Fredi BakerFebruary 23, 2011 - 9:48 pm

    Congratulations Jon! Great new format, and an excellent, exciting new blog written by someone on the cutting edge of journalism. I can hardly wait to read your future posts! Keep 'em coming...

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  • Shobhana RishiFebruary 23, 2011 - 9:55 pm

    Wonderful! Look forward to visitng often.

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  • Alan KubeyFebruary 24, 2011 - 7:39 am

    Fittingly bold move, Jon. Well done; it looks great thus far. This surely involves a lot of work for you, therefore, as you set sail, I wish you Godspeed on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which The Davis Enterprise has ever embarked.

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  • Johannes TroostFebruary 24, 2011 - 7:44 am

    Jonathan- Thank you for your leadership and forward thinking. Keep up your great work!

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  • David EdwardsFebruary 24, 2011 - 8:06 am

    Great opening article, son. It will be with great pride that I'll follow this latest endeavor of yours. Break a leg, man.

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  • KRFebruary 24, 2011 - 9:43 am

    Terrific job!

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  • Paul DornFebruary 24, 2011 - 9:53 am

    Congrats. Finally. I look forward to sending eyeballs to content, through my social media presence.

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  • SharlaFebruary 24, 2011 - 2:33 pm

    This is a wonderful direction the Enterprise is taking! I have always been willing to pay for an online subscription, but was forced to pay for the physical paper also. Waiting until I get home to read the paper was just not working. I've been limping along, reading the iPhone version of the paper for some time and only buying the paper from a rack when I needed a copy. Reading the entire week's worth of news on Monday left me a little out of touch. Thank you for working to make our local paper relevant and "the place to go to stay informed."

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  • JoyFebruary 25, 2011 - 1:16 pm

    Great article! This is just what I've been waiting for. With our city's reputation for being green, this is a great move in the right direction. Now we can keep up with the local news and not fill up the landfill or recycle bins! Also, it will be nice to be able to follow a story through develpments.

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  • Andy JonesFebruary 26, 2011 - 9:02 pm

    Add my name to the chorus of Enterprise fans who love the new look and accessibility of the Davis Enterprise website. I’ve been using WordPress myself on an increasing number of academic and outreach projects, and I’ve come to appreciate the logical navigation and design elements. I shall now start sending students to the online content of our hometown paper, starting with the journalism students that I am teaching this quarter. Well done!

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  • Lisa WebberFebruary 28, 2011 - 10:42 am

    How do I access the "Briefly" column of local information on the website? It is all in one place in the print version and very useful, but I can't find it anywhere on the web version. (I would have sent this inquiry directly, but couldn't find a place to do that, either). Many thanks.

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  • Jonathan EdwardsFebruary 28, 2011 - 11:53 am

    Hey Lisa. Great point! I've added a "Briefly" addition to the "News" menu. So if you let your cursor hover over the news menu on the top left of the site, "briefly" is now included in the drop down menu. Thanks for the advice. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say. Now if you squeak for $1 million, I can't help you ;) Oh, and right below the blue menu bar that includes "News," "Sports," "Entertainment," etc. there's a blue-gray menu bar with an option "Contact Us." But feel free to post directly to the site. I keep a closer eye on that and can be more responsive than a call that has to go through a number of different people before it gets to me. Let me know if there's anything else.

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  • Lisa WebberFebruary 28, 2011 - 3:50 pm

    What amazing customer service! I feel like Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise-D (now we know that stands for 'Davis'): "Make it so..." And you did! Congrats on a fantastic site, but more kudos for constantly making it better.

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  • Jonathan EdwardsFebruary 28, 2011 - 12:30 pm

    You guys have blown me away with all this support and kind words! It's been great to watch this amazing support flow in over the past five days. Thank you for checking out the new site, and thank you for reading my column (if you have time, check it out again; I've added some cool links and video to make a true digital blog post.) OK, so in the spirit of last night, here's my Academy Award-inspired Oscar speech: I'm not going to do a false humility thing, saying something like, "I played a very small role in all of this. The true heroes are--blah, blah blah" -- I think that is its own kind of arrogance. No, I played a big role in this project, but others did too. In fact, others played a bigger role, and I'd like to call them out now. Dean Royal, our online strategist, has been a mentor and an inspiration, constantly driving and pushing us to get better. This guy does not stop, nor should he. This is a seize-the-day kind of person who lights the world on fire. Joe Boydston, vice president of digital media for McNaughton Newspapers, is the behind-the-scenes go-to-guy. He's smart and responsive. Moreover, he uses those smart to make not only the Davis Enterprise better, not only McNaughton Newspapers but the entire news industry. Great vision, great heart. Debbie Davis, editor and assistant publisher, has been a gamer! She probably wanted to get off Mr. Toad's Wild Ride at least a few times, but she hung on for dear life. You wouldn't know it, however; she's led the newsroom with aplomb and grace, as always. David Martinelli, production manager and online editor at the Mountain Democrat, doesn't even work here! Still, he came down from the foothills I-don't-know-how-many-times to help us with so many aspects of the transition from old to new. That's on top of being the online editor at the Mountain Democrat, building his own separate business and expecting his first child in four months. This guy's crazy! But legit. Everyone at the Enterprise has been a crucial part of this. It's taken brains and guts and Red Bull. Lots and lots of Red Bull. Thanks again, Davis and beyond! Keep reading, watching, looking and listening!

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  • windex66April 11, 2011 - 10:49 am

    Ten points for Jonathan Edwards, Debbie Davis, and The Enterprise. Hazaa!

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