Opinion » Note

Straddling the Real World and the Digital Realm

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Every January the larger network of alternative newsmedia outlets to which Boise Weekly belongs hosts a conference about how we can better utilize the Web. And, typically, I write about it in a subsequent Editor's Note.

The message at last year's conference was mobile, mobile, mobile. Check, check and check on our part. Not only have we had a mobile site forever, but we'll be rolling out a new mobile platform sometime in the next four to six weeks.

This year's message was tablet, tablet, tablet. More than one speaker had a slide with a graph comparing how readers use various devices throughout the day, starting with peaks for mobile and tablet devices in the morning, followed by a peak for computers during the workday, finishing with another large spike in mobile devices after 5 p.m. with tablets outpacing mobile.

These days, it seems, if you don't have a tablet app, you'd better put that on your to-do list. It's on my wish list, not my to-do list, but for you tablet users out there: Unless someone wants to build a beautifully designed app for us on the cheap, it may take us a little longer than we'd like.

Finally let me share with you a few thoughts I shared with several of my colleagues from other alt weeklies. It's the same message I shared with the editorial staff in our weekly meeting. I believe that strong, longform journalism is the hallmark of the alt weekly and continues to be its biggest strength. As long as I'm editor of Boise Weekly, that won't change. We will continue to publish lengthy, in-depth main features, like "The Dirty Dance" in this week's issue.

However I also believe that a weekly newspaper has no choice but to evolve into the digital world and that its Web product should be a different animal than its print product. Why, with an entire toolbox of exciting things at our finger tips--video and audio capability, the ability to show multiple photos with a story, the ease with which we can link to or publish source material for further reading and research--wouldn't we take advantage of them?

Many of my alt-weekly colleagues don't see the value in dumping time and resources into digital media. I think that's shortsighted. I often invite readers to share their opinions with me, and as always, I'd be curious to know what you have to say. Drop me a line at rachael@boiseweekly.com.

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