February 4, 2009
Although buffeted by the economy, newspapers are still here, and the country -- and this community -- are the better for it.
Sunday''s Super Bowl''s massive television audience was equaled by the number of people who read about the game in their newspapers the next day.
Yes, some papers are struggling and others are calling it quits. Big city papers like the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times have filed for bankruptcy. But so have countless other businesses, victims of the worst recession in anyone''s memory. Over the past 10 years, around 100 U.S. newspapers have shut down. But 1,400 daily papers are still alive and sharing the news across the country.
Along with The Dispatch, most newspapers have widened their appeal through increasingly interactive Web sites featuring reader blogs and online video of breaking news.
Hometown newspapers like The Commercial Dispatch are in the unique position to bring the world -- and local news -- to your doorstep every day. We are proud to come into your home, to be your watchdog, to keep you informed of what''s going on in your community, to offer opinions on the news of the day and to provide a forum for discussion of public issues.
In keeping with our desire to serve you, our readers, The Dispatch''s Web site, www.cdispatch.com, has a new look and a multitude of new reader-friendly features. A story on the front page of today''s paper offers details about the changes.
With the improvements to www.cdispatch.com, The Dispatch invites you to partner with us more than ever in our online community.
We encourage you to make www.cdispatch.com your portal to your online world. Besides being able to offer opinions through online blogs, readers can now join a community page, which allows you to share photos, videos and comments with other cdispatch.com users. Like an online refrigerator door, the community page''s "photos" link offers a delightful hodgepodge of pictures ranging from a shot of former President George W. Bush departing Washington in a helicopter to a local family playing Twister.
Our Craigslist-type free classifieds also are a community bulletin board for local citizens to sell and share items they no longer need or want.
Besides being able to view obituaries online, Web site visitors also can offer condolences or share memories of the deceased via an online guest book. Readers can even order flowers via our Web site.
We expect continued growth with online readership. Already the numbers are impressive. In the week ending Jan. 25, 2009, The Dispatch Web site had 27,138 visitors and 143,851 page views.
While we''re not ready to contemplate discontinuing our print edition, some papers are. The Christian Science Monitor is switching from a daily printed edition to an online format that is updated continuously throughout the day. The Spectator, Mississippi University for Women''s student newspaper, has largely abandoned print in favor of online only.
Even papers that are retaining their regularly published print editions are moving more and more to periodic updates of stories and releases of breaking news in real time on their Internet editions. The Dispatch has for quite some time been using our Web site to break news and keep our readers apprised of events as they occur. The site has been the go-to place for local election results.
Like our printed newspaper, each day''s online edition is a collaboration between The Dispatch staff and you, our readers. We appreciate the opportunity to come into your home each day, and we welcome your feedback. We encourage you to share your comments via e-mail to Dispatch Web developer, Peter Imes, at firstname.lastname@example.org.