04 March 2007

More Options for River Journal

This issue of the River Journal just out highlights three ways in which new technology is expanding the capabilities of newspapers.

The first, I've already talked about, is the issue of new ordinances for Clark Fork. Through free blogs like this one, we were able to set up the ordinances online, and allow for any and all to comment (good or bad). As city council stated it would be too time consuming to hold a public meeting and go through the ordinances one by one, allowing for citizen feedback, this approach gives a way for public comment that doesn't place an onerous burden on city council members. The only way this could have been better is if city council had done it first. So there's the first "yay" for technology.

The second "yay" is in Marianne Love's Q&A with Sandpoint city councilman (yeah, I'm not always politically correct) Helen Newton. The story is a fascinating one, and not all of it is in the pages of the River Journal. Marianne has posted a continuation of the story both on the River Journal's website and at her own blog.

Finally, Sherry Ramsey has issued a challenge to RJ readers to pay-it-forward, and let us know how you're doing it, with a promise to publish some of the most innovative and simple ideas. (Yeah, it was Sherry Ramsey who wrote that story, NOT Cassandra Cridland. And that's another story.) Technology doesn't really play a huge role in this challenge, though readers are asked to email their information to Sherry. But it is one more way that the paper is opening itself up to the readership.

In fact, the 9-11 Mysteries story even includes a link to an online version of the movie - so you can not only read about what people saw in Sandpoint, you can go check it out yourself.

I'm not sure where the future of the RJ will go in terms of technology, mostly because of the very steep learning curve in front of me whenever we do anything that's different. But we're exploring ways we can expand what we offer while still keeping this a "newspaper worth wading through."

By the way... I'm thinking our new font (Dutch) is a vast improvement over our trial font in the 14 February issue. My apologies to anyone whose eyes were hurting after that issue came out.

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