Publisher’s ink: Entering the door to the future

By October 27, 2010

Richard Esposito

Richard Esposito

Today is a historic day for the Mountain Democrat. After several months of development, testing and training our print edition becomes one of the first newspapers in the country to reverse publish. Reverse publishing refers to the process of publishing online content to the print edition of the newspaper.

Starting with this issue, the oldest newspaper in the state of California has revolutionized how it utilizes the Internet for publishing news and information. Where newspapers currently gather and edit content for their print editions first – we are now placing all of our news content on first.

Newspapers continue to treat their print editions as the main delivery medium for news. The advent of the Internet allows us to move this information more quickly. Let’s face it, in many situations, you already know what happened before reading it in the newspaper. However, in unique circumstances, newspaper Websites feature “breaking news” when something really big occurs. This is the equivalent to how television programmers cut into local broadcasting to announce urgent, late-breaking news.

“Deadwood” editions are not disappearing from the landscape anytime soon. Too many folks still enjoy holding the printed word in their hands while enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. Journalism hasn’t changed. The means of delivering journalism have. From traditional newspapers to telegraph wire, radio and television we continue to advance how we disseminate news. We now have mobile phones, Blackberries, iPads, and of course the Internet, the invention that makes it all possible.

The newspaper industry has struggled through the years on how best to capture the efficiencies and value from their Websites. Do we charge for content? Should we require registration? How much content do we place behind the pay wall?

Here at the Mountain Democrat we’ve always allowed only paid subscribers access to local news content. We consider this valuable enough to charge a fee for. While other newspapers continue to wrestle between free and paid Website access we simply ask what other business model expends resources in producing a product only to give it away for free.

Reverse publishing has been discussed for many years throughout our industry. Getting information from our fiber publication to our cyber publication was easy. Extracting the information backward to use in publishing the newspaper was the challenge. Not only have we broken the code but we no longer require any expensive and/or outdated newsroom databases to make it happen. Ours is a free, open source.

Here’s how the process works. Our reporters (contributors) post their stories online to WordPress, a free, open source technology platform. From here our editors read, edit and approve stories for publishing online. Our readers then have access to continual news updates on our Website –

Paid subscribers have immediate access to news as it happens. During the next few weeks, however, non-subscribers too will have unlimited access to the Mountain Democrat Website as we work out any kinks in the pipeline.

The opportunities are far reaching. Readers have the ability to send us mobile cell phone photos, videos and newsworthy information of events happening in real time. Reporters have the ability to report live from any event and download their story for online publication immediately.

This new innovation allows us the ability to publish the Mountain Democrat from anywhere the Internet is available. We could build news pages for our print edition while sitting at Starbucks, at home, or from a classroom at any school in the county.

Our photographers can now download multiple photographs from the event or from their easy chair in their living room at home.

It’s been a one way street when moving content from our print editions to our Website. With the use of the WordPress platform and innovative technology developed by Joe Boydston, our vice president of technology, we have built a new highway from cyber to fiber. Joe along with Dean Royal, our new online strategist, has retooled our newsroom for the future. Behind their efforts and the willingness of a news staff understanding the need for change, the Mountain Democrat has propelled ahead of all other traditional newspapers.

The Website will experience upgrades as we push this new technology forward. And our newsroom culture is evolving as we grasp what the Internet has to offer our industry and the future of journalism. The door to the future is now open and we here at the Mountain Democrat have entered it.

Richard Esposito

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