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Chronicle-Independent, West Wateree Chronicle to launch full service websites

Posted: October 1, 2010 4:47 p.m.
Updated: October 4, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Readers of the Chronicle-Independent and West Wateree Chronicle newspapers will soon have a new way to get the coverage of local news, sports, arts and community events Kershaw County has come to expect for more than 120 years.

Later this month, Camden Media Co., which owns both the Chronicle-Independent and West Wateree Chronicle, will launch websites for both papers. In addition to being able to view the papers’ full contents, visitors will find new online communities waiting for them to join.

As the Chronicle-Independent is a print product to which readers either subscribe or purchase from racks and convenience stores, most of the editorial content on the Chronicle-Independent’s website, www.chronicle-independent.com, will be behind what is known as a paywall. The West Wateree Chronicle is a free weekly newspaper; all of the content on its website, www.westwatereechronicle.com, will be available at no charge.

Publisher Mike Mischner said the time is right to add digital content to Camden Media Co.’s repertoire.

“We have studied this for a long, long time and feel this is the right time,” said Mischner. “We believe it will be beneficial to our readers. We’re very excited about this.”

Approximately six months ago, Mischner formed a technology team headed by Production Director Barbara Stevens and including Advertising Director Betsy Greenway, Editor Martha Bruce, Associate Editor Martin L. Cahn and West Wateree Chronicle Editor Keri Todd Boyce.

“There has been a tremendous amount of planning,” said Mischner.

One of the biggest decisions was to place the bulk of the Chronicle-Independent’s content behind a paywall, requiring visitors who wish to read that content online to subscribe to the website.

“Although newspapers have been publishing on the Web for some time, the industry has evolved so that it is moving to a paywall model,” Mischner said. “So, if people want to get that content online, they need to pay for it. That’s the correct business model for an organization like Camden Media Co.”

Annual subscriptions to the print and online editions of the Chronicle-Independent will be $75 each. A discount will be offered to those who wish to subscribe to both the print and online editions. Annual “combo” subscriptions will be $100. Six-month subscriptions will also be available, with the individual print and online rates at $38.50. A six-month “combo” subscription will be $50.

“By no stretch is the print edition of the Chronicle-Independent going to go away. To the contrary, we expect it to grow over the years to come. The online edition is an alternative for folks, especially those who live out of our market, to get our content,” said Mischner.

Behind-the-paywall content exclusive to subscribers will include but not be limited to all news, sports and Localife articles; editorials, columns and Robert Ariail’s cartoons; sports articles and features; police reports; and real estate transactions. In the near future, thanks to the multimedia aspects of the Web, the Chronicle-Independent’s subscriber content will also include video and audio clips.

Even without a subscription, Mischner believes local residents and others with ties to Kershaw County will find an online home through the Chronicle-Independent website. Registered non-subscribers (in addition to paid subscribers) can upload events to the Chronicle-Independent’s online calendar; start a blog; and upload pictures and, in the near future, videos.

Other items that will be accessed for free from the Chronicle-Independent’s home page will include birth announcements, weddings and engagements, obituaries, Pets of the Week and Sidewalk Survey.

The West Wateree Chronicle website will, like its “parent” print edition, feature news, sports and features exclusively targeted to the West Wateree communities of Elgin and Lugoff. Boyce is including sections on West Wateree life and arts, editorials, obituaries, police reports, building permits and school news. The website will also sport community elements, including its own user-submitted calendar, blogs, photos and other multimedia.

Also, both the Chronicle-Independent and West Wateree Chronicle are launching Facebook pages to help promote the sites. Cahn and Boyce, respectively, will write short messages posting information about the sites’ latest stories and features with links to each site’s home page.

Mischner said more announcements about the websites’ launches will be made in the coming days.

“We will have further details as we near the launch,” he said, “but we wanted to go ahead and announce this to our very loyal customers. This is one of the most significant announcements in the history of the Chronicle-Independent.

“This is a whole new platform. For more than 120 years, the Chronicle-Independent -- and now the West Wateree Chronicle -- has been keeping citizens informed of what’s happening in Kershaw County by use of ink on paper. Now, we will be offering that same content in a whole new way.”

In addition to the Chronicle-Independent and West Wateree Chronicle, Camden Media Co. publishes The Fort Jackson Leader, The Shaw News, Lee County Observer, The Blythewood Country Chronicle, Lake Wateree News and The Connection.

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