It’s my turn to write the monthly milestone – an update about The Chronicle. Here’s a nuts-and-bolts outline, with a longer version after the break.
- Events: List them yourself on The Chronicle by registering for an account on Upcoming and creating the event listings there. Let us know when you’ve done that, and we’ll add them to our “watch list,” which will make them appear on The Chronicle’s event listing. It’s free.
- Emailed updates: Shoot us an email saying you’d like to receive weekly story summaries, and we’ll send them to you – with links to the complete story.
- Advertising crew: As part of our ongoing effort to increase revenues to support expanded coverage in The Chronicle, there’ll be some folks out there in the community earning commissions by convincing advertisers to place ads in The Chronicle. If you think you’ve got what it takes to sell ads into The Chronicle, let us know.
- Print and thoughts on newspapers: Printing off a page from The Chronicle should look a bit better than it used to. Regarding the contrast between news on-screen versus printed on paper, Del Dunbar’s column that we ran back in September 2008, our first month of publication, is a better read than ever. [Link to Del Dunbar's column.]
Here’s how to set up your own event listings on The Chronicle.
- Register for an account on Upcoming (http://upcoming.yahoo.com). Some readers might already have an account with Yahoo!
- Create the event using +Add An Event on Upcoming. It’s a form-filling exercise that asks for what you’d expect: Title, venue, time, date, description, cost (if any). Many if not most of the venues in Ann Arbor are already in the Upcoming system – start typing and the auto-fill will take over. If you wind up needing to add a venue, once you type in the address, a link to a map of that location gets automatically created.
- Let us know you’ve created the event. Email us the link. Or just tell us the title. We’ll find it. Then we’ll add it to our “watch list” and it will show up on The Chronicle’s event listing. Plus, your event will potentially show up in other places that use Upcoming. ArborUpdate‘s right sidebar is one example.
To people with events to promote, the advantages of this approach include: total control over accuracy, tone and language of description; total control of any needed revisions (what if the time, date or venue changes due to circumstances beyond your control?); potentially wider distribution across the web.
For us, one advantage is that it saves work – one click adds an event to our “watch list.” Another is that we retain editorial control over which events appear on our website. A final advantage is that Upcoming uses the nomenclature “watch list.” We’re all about watches and clocks here at The Chronicle, for heaven’s sake.
Why events? Our approach to chronicling the community is to show up somewhere and give a first-hand eyewitness account. That approach doesn’t necessarily serve the promotional interests of people who are holding events. It also doesn’t necessarily directly serve the public interest in knowing when important events are going to take place: “Thanks, Ann Arbor Chronicle, for telling me what happened, but how about telling me next time that it’s going to happen so I can go myself if I want.” A mostly reader-driven event listing allows us to focus resources on reporting and writing, while serving readers’ interest in knowing what’s coming up.
For readers who are familiar with microformats, our event listing has them.
We’ve heard from several readers that their preferred way to read The Chronicle is to receive a warm, friendly electronic nuzzle – an email message – with links to stories. So we’ve begun sending out weekly updates (Saturday or Sunday) with short synopses of the main stories from the past week, including links to the whole story. It’s just text, no pretty pictures. We also include in the weekly update a link to our list of advertisers.
If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you decide, after receiving some of these updates, that this is not what you wanted after all, just send us an email and we’ll take you off the list.
It’s always been our intention to expand coverage of The Chronicle as revenues allow. With the recent developments in the local media landscape – most notably, The Ann Arbor News is ceasing publication this summer – expectations from our readers have risen. We’ve heard from several of you that you’d like us to step up and expand the breadth of our coverage. We don’t intend to disappoint.
For a few months now, our efforts to grow revenues have included some other folks who’ve been working with us to increase the number of advertisers in The Chronicle. Readers might have noticed the effect of those efforts. In addition to thanking our long-time advertisers, we’d like to welcome the following advertisers who’ve joined us since our last monthly milestone (and see the full list of all our advertisers here):
- Courtyard Shops
- Downtown Home & Garden
- Emergent Arts
- Fourth Avenue Birkenstock
- Legacy Land Conservancy
- Potters Guild
- Real Seafood Co.
- Washington Street Gallery
We’re also ready to add some additional advertising representatives. If you want to take a shot selling ads into The Chronicle on a straight commission basis, send Mary Morgan an email at email@example.com.
Additional revenues will support additional reporting and writing. I think there’ll be a variety of local enterprises over the next few months that launch because people see an opportunity to fill a void. I think that The Chronicle and annarbor.com will likely be just two of a host of media alternatives – from other purely online ventures with rolling publication times, to printed weekly publications, to other combined print-web initiatives. It could be that several survive longer term.
Whether one of those is a daily printed publication is possible, I’d say yes, but doubtful. Still, The Republic, which is the local paper in my hometown of Columbus, Indiana (pop. 35,000), seems to be printing a paper every day.
Newspapers and Print
Related to printing is one recent success here at The Chronicle: When you print off a story from The Chronicle, the result now looks pretty close to the way the screen looks. One exception is that the advertisements are lined up along the bottom. So if you know someone who’s just never ever ever going to go online to read local news, and there’s some Chronicle content you think they’d enjoy, we’d encourage you to print off a page and hand it along to them. Or just post it somewhere prominent.
We know that a sheaf of 8.5 x 11 sheets isn’t going to replace the feel of a newspaper. But it’s better than nothing – which to paraphrase Del Dunbar in the column he wrote for The Chronicle back in September, is exactly what you paid to read this.
In the wake of last week’s news I found myself re-reading that column. I’d like to invite you to do the same: “I miss my daily newspaper as I remember it.”
After reading Del’s piece, Twitter it, Facebook it, MySpace it, email it. Or … print it out and staple it to a telephone pole.