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Even digitally, we're your hometown newspaper

Posted: October 1, 2010 5:39 p.m.
Updated: October 4, 2010 5:00 a.m.

This week is National Newspaper Week.

This column is about a website.

Those two sentences aren’t -- and shouldn’t be -- incompatible. As announced on our front page, the Chronicle-Independent is launching a full-service website later this month. Our addition of a digital platform for our flagship newspaper has been a simultaneously daunting task and natural evolution of our brand of community journalism.

 “This newspaper remains the best source available to keep up with what is going on in our community,” reads a promotional advertisement from the S.C. Press Association this week, featuring a dog with a newspaper in its mouth. “From local news and sports to government issues, we keep you informed about news that affects your life. We also connect you with local businesses, giving you information on where to buy everything from a car to a head of lettuce.

“Or a dog treat.”

Cute, but I’d add that we will now be your best source for hometown news both in print and online.

There are things newspapers do other media outlets and social networks can’t. We have the staff and resources to provide you the in-depth coverage of issues and events you need to be an informed citizen while keeping you in touch with your neighbors through our Localife, sports and feature stories.

That won’t change. Indeed, it can only be enhanced by adding online components.

By subscribing to our website, you’ll be able to read the same articles you would see in our print edition. You’ll see the same photographs.

Now, though, you’ll see more photographs, extra information, source documentation and, perhaps, video.

If I mention in a front page story that “according to a letter to council members included in Tuesday’s agenda…,” I can put that letter online as part of the story.

In a future column, if I mention that I saw something on a website, I can link to that website so you can see it for yourself.

Imagine what a series like last year’s “Death of a Deputy” would be like online. There are some very powerful things we, as journalists, can do to truly bring you, the reader, into a story when we have digital components to offer.

But there’s more.

Through our website, you can also become part of an online community. You can upload your own photos, add events to our online calendar and start a blog. That’s all free, by the way. Subscribers to the C-I will be able to comment not only on stories, but on just about anything we place online from letters to the editors and columns to Tom Didato’s coverage of high school sports.

The way I look at it, if you live in Kershaw County or live out of town but are from Kershaw County, the C-I website can be your “home” on the Internet. It’s like a new neighborhood sprouted up, joining Bethune, Boykin, Camden, Cassatt, Elgin, Liberty Hill, Lugoff, Rembert and Westville. It just happens to grow in cyberspace instead of on the ground.

So, there are two aspects to the new C-I website: our content and your content. Some of our content will be free -- birth announcements, weddings and engagements, obituaries, pets and Sidewalk Survey. The rest of our content will be behind what’s known as a paywall, where you have to subscribe to the site to read the stories.

All of your content -- the blogs, your photographs and calendar -- are free.

With our exclusive content, you’re getting more than 120 years of experience telling Kershaw County’s story. There’s a value in that content -- value worth paying for. The editors and reporters of this paper go to meetings, conduct interviews, go to ball games and dig into public documents.

Just like our print edition, the C-I’s website will be totally focused on local news, sports, events and personalities. Just like our newspaper, the website will give you the quality in-depth coverage you have expected from us all these years. Other online sources of news about Kershaw County simply can’t compare. The TV station’s websites might have a few more video clips than they can show on the air. Larger paper’s websites tend to chop down the news for the sake of “brevity.”

We, on the other hand, have always gone the distance on the stories that matter and will never compromise on that quality as we go online.

We’re also, today, launching a C-I Facebook page. For the most part, I’ll be the one maintaining that. At first, it will serve as a “countdown” to the launch of the full website. Afterward, I’ll mostly be posting headlines with links to our home page.

We hope you’ll become a Friend and help us extend our online community even further. It’s another chance for you to be a part of the C-I experience -- another place where you can comment on stories, ask questions and interact with others in Kershaw County.

And don’t forget to check the West Wateree Chronicle’s new website which will launch with the C-I’s. Editor Keri Todd Boyce is maintaining a Facebook presence as well.

Publisher Mike Mischner said going online doesn’t herald the end of our print edition. I agree. They are complementary, with the website being a digital “copy” of our newspaper with enhanced features.

Perhaps there will come a day when the newspaper you’re holding in your hand becomes an almost-forgotten relic of the past. Perhaps, one day, the C-I will be wholly digital. While I believe that day will come, I don’t think it’s imminent.

But, whenever it does, even digitally, we will still be your hometown newspaper.

That’s a pretty bright future not only for us, but for you, our loyal readers.

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