Starting with Wednesday's edition, The News-Times is getting ready to debut a slimmed-down print model and a beefed-up Web site.
The changes for the printed edition won't be drastic, but if you grab a copy of today's paper and compare it to Wednesday's, you'll see the new version is about an inch narrower, and slightly shorter.
We can give a great many reasons for the change, but the simplest one is that The News-Times is printed at The Augusta Chronicle's plant. The press downtown has undergone a significant upgrade and now will print on what is becoming an industry-standard narrower paper width.
In short, if we wanted to stay the old size, we'd have to be printed somewhere else.
But we're also making the change for the same reason The Chronicle is investing in those press upgrades: The newspaper business is working to better manage its print expenses, while making greater use of the size and immediacy offered by digital media.
Over the course of a year - with the production of nearly 2 million copies of The News-Times - that small reduction in paper width will yield significant savings in newsprint.
No, you won't need a magnifying glass to read the paper; the size of the printed words isn't changing - just the width of the page. The design throughout the paper will be reconfigured, but readability won't be reduced.
Corresponding with the change to the print edition is a significant upgrade to this Web site.
Newstimesonline.com has been hosted for quite some time on an antiquated and limited design platform. Starting with Wednesday's edition, however, The News-Times is switching to the more-robust Drupal platform, which not only offers far more features but, more importantly, will allow updates on demand.
The old Web site had to be manually updated twice a week, matching the production, and constraints, of the printed paper. In the high-speed world we live in, that just no longer makes sense. The new site brings with it a change in philosophy as The News-Times moves toward becoming a daily newspaper that prints twice each week.
For existing print readers, whose value and loyalty are incomparable, The News-Times will continue to provide award-winning, twice-weekly community coverage of growing, thriving Columbia County.
For digital readers, we hope the upgrades will be a welcome leap forward, providing not just an essential place to visit for local news and information, but one that offers more of it, and more often. Those upgrades are free to readers, for now.
As always, we appreciate feedback and contributions. Send us a note to email@example.com, or by U.S. Mail at 4272 Washington Road, Ste. 3B, Evans, Ga., 30809.
And thanks for the privilege of serving the readers of Columbia County.
- Barry Paschal
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