Join the 'Web generation,' visit the Citizen online

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By The Staff

Today’s generation grew up with television and cut their teeth on computers – it’s second nature to them. The “greatest generation” thought radio was an electronic marvel and TV was introduced as a luxury to them.

Individuals communicate with the suddenness that was once reserved for news mediums and hush-hush government agencies. But the “greatest” and the baby boomers are catching up with all the whiz kids and becoming more computer literate every day.

Like our readers, the Citizen is catching up to the Web generation. We’ve had a site for some time but it was primitive and not much more than a novelty for Snowbirds who summer elsewhere – and relatives and acquaintances of the columnists. After a few years the site developed a respectable number of monthly hits, and then changing times dictated the need for a major revision.

Without going into a lot of Internet/computer whys and wherefores there were some major problems and the Citizen Web site was unavailable for more than a month. The new pages have been up and running for a few months, the problems have been overcome – but the online flock seems to have wandered.

So we find out something about the Internet audience – it’s easier for them to find us than for us to search them out. Slowly, each month’s number of visitors is increasing and comments about the new presentation have been encouraging as the new features are being discovered.

We are able to do things with the new online pages that the old site wasn’t capable of. Some of those things will make it easier for readers to contribute to the community’s news and makes it possible for the paper to put material online for which there is no room in each Friday’s printed issue.

Last week, for the first time, we included a slideshow of photographs with a story online. We can usually use two or three photos in print and the rest are never seen, especially from an event like the Friends of Freedom Library’s Read on the Green.

There were more than a dozen pictures online and four in the paper. This week, Carol Jones gives more detail about the project and a few more photos.

When we put the Freedom Public Library column on its Web page this week, I hope we will be able to present another slide show of kids, sponsors and volunteers.

As we get more familiar with the software and its limitations we will be able to post more photos, and eventually material, on the Web site when there is no more space in the paper. We aren’t going to cut back on the newspaper – readers will always get as many pages as we can afford to run.

But to remain competitive we are embracing the new way to bring more and better coverage to an audience that is growing older, younger, and more diverse in the way it consumes its news. What we do is the same thing – make it possible for our readers to participate in bringing news to the Corridor – and they do a great job of it.

Now we are working on expanding the use of news and pictures we don’t have room for in print, as well as having an online version that more closely resembles the paper that circulates in the community. The complete Citizen isn’t on the electronic horizon yet, but seasonal residents and out-of-town relatives can read about what’s going on in your part of “horse country.”

If you want to send a copy of a story or column – complete with pictures – to a friend or relative up north it will be easier, and no 42 cents an ounce for postage. Even if you don’t have a computer, most of the kids and grandchildren do. If you give them the Web address, www.smcitizen.com or tell them to “search” the name of this paper, they can follow what’s going on in your back yard.

If you were a Web site visitor but thought it disappeared forever – it didn’t. The cyber gremlins have been vanquished and the Citizen is back online.

The pages are prettier, easier to navigate and will become an expanded edition to the paper that serves the Corridor. It’s a work in progress; but it works now and will provide an even wider window to the community as we get used to looking through it.