The year was 1999, the month July. The Arizona Daily Sun, which had been publishing continuously in print under various names and owners since 1883, went online for the first time.
Over the next 17 years, our website grew organically, adding slide shows, videos, reader comments, breaking news, a marketplace, links to Facebook and Twitter and plenty of navigation bars. To be honest, there was a lot going on – almost too much.
So this week, we have launched a redesign of the site that we hope is both more compelling and easier to navigate. The goal is still the same: to deliver news and information digitally that still meets the highest standards of journalism while leveraging the timeliness, ubiquity and interactivity of the Internet. (The business community and its products and services also have a place on our website, just as they have in print.)
Some have called the advent of digital journalism the Age of Disruption: Newspaper journalists no longer could aim for one deadline a day and still be relevant.
We adjusted our work routines to update print editions on the web during the day while breaking news and promoting the next day’s stories. Subscribers rightly expected their morning hometown paper to provide news on the smartphones, tablets and PCs they were checking throughout the day.
The redesigned www.azdailysun.com builds on those expectations. In the past, the desktop website and the one viewed on a phone or tablet were similar, but different. Now, due to a flex technology, the Daily Sun website automatically adjusts to fit the size of the phone or tablet screen you are using.
The site also emphasizes photos and graphics to give readers instant visual cues about a story – and make them easier to open. Type sizes are larger as screens shrink.
After 17 years, the Daily Sun’s electronic archives are a research and educational treasure trove for the entire community – and growing. Reporters and editors now can more easily provide links in stories to related reports and databases.
The navigational changes on the site are subtle but important. The main one is the repositioning of the dropdown navigation bar under “Menu” at the upper left. That’s where you go for everything from submitting a news tip to customer service.
And speaking of the latter, now is the time to activate your digital subscription if you already subscribe in print – it comes at no additional charge. It’s easy to do: Go to Subscribe under the pulldown Menu, then click on “Activate my Account.” To subscribe for the first time, click on the red “Connect Me Local” logo.
For more traditional readers who like the layout of the print paper, we have made an exact replica of the Daily Sun available electronically in what is called the E-edition. That way, when you are out of town, the paper is still there for you on screen – there’s even a way now to enlarge each story on the page, and everything loads faster.
None of this would be possible without the talent and hard work of our IT director, Angela Mabe. She helped to redesign the site, then build its functionality. After two days, it is still a work in progress and she welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, the ongoing work of providing the content and refreshing it nearly hourly is done by everyone in the Daily Sun newsroom.
We are all digital journalists now, and www.azdailysun.com is our present as well as our future. If you haven’t done so already, log on and check us out. We’ve come a long way since 1999, yet the journey has just begun.
Randy Wilson is Editor of the Arizona Daily Sun. You can reach him at email@example.com or (928) 556-2254.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.