Sequim Gazette's Web site just took on a new face.
On Dec. 18, the father-son duo Jay and Jason Cline went live with their new software template that they say creates a cleaner viewing experience.
Jay, an information technology specialist, said the new software planning has been in the works for a few months and its format will make it easier for staff to update news and multimedia more frequently.
Statistics from Google have shown that as staff updates the site more, hits and unique visitors go up.
Jason, a software engineer for more than 10 years for companies such as Vodafone, said from this point last year, Web traffic has doubled, with more than 100,000 page views and 25,000 unique visitors per month.
"This gives the Gazette a lot more room to grow and provide content as we are able," Jason said.
Jay says updating the Web site offers readers an opportunity to see deeper into stories with photos and multimedia that the print edition cannot always run.
The new site presents breaking news and updates at the top of the screen better than the previous site, he said.
The Sequim Gazette first started a site in the late 1990s with infrequent updates and went dark for a period of time. In 2002, staff approached the medium more aggressively, said publisher Sue Ellen Riesau.
"The Web site is an important adjunct to what we do in newsprint. It's current. It's a part of how we do business in this century," Riesau said.
"My desire was to make it 'the' community portal."
When Jason began working on the current incarnation of the Web site in 2006, he felt newspapers viewed their sites as an add-on and not a point of immediate interest.
"With the downturn of the economy and more people turning to the Web for news, newspapers are moving more toward it in a significant way," Jason said.
"The biggest problem is that there hasn't been a value established for what people are willing to pay for local news compared to national news."
Notably, the Seattle-Post Intelligencer and a handful of other national newspapers are strictly online-only now following major cuts and dropping the print edition.
"No one is sure what direction newspapers will go," Jason said.
"It's a debate that's going on but there haven't been any true successes or failures for newspapers online."
Riesau acknowledges that newspapers have shifted to the Web.
"I'm a realist, the Web could replace the print product completely but it's not something that's going to happen in my lifetime," she said.
"Good community newspapers will be around longer than naysayers predict."
Jason feels 2010 holds many potential answers as companies such as Apple, Amazon and Google push electronic tablet devices to replace books and print.
"(They) may turn the electronic print and book market on its head," he said.
"The entire market is in such a dramatic shift, it's hard to see how things will look in two to three years."
"One thing is for certain, that electronic publication has become a critical part of every newspaper's ability to inform its readers as well as its business model. The changes to the Gazette's Web site will help it bridge the gap between the print product and the Web."
Jay encourages Web users to e-mail him with comments about the Web site and how it better can be utilized to serve Sequim at cline@sequim
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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