After two back-to-back blizzards, I finally get it. After 12 years of working for weekly community newspapers, and my own travel magazine, I have to admit I am a print diehard. But, over the past year, I have witnessed the demise of 67 newspapers. Even two magazines that I've been affiliated with have ceased their print products. I am finally getting how this new age of media really is about delivering the message in a different way, not just shoveling content from the printed page to a Web site.
At the beginning of 2009, I was definitely intrigued by how many businesses were joining in the chatter of the social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. By the summer, I joined in the chatter -- not sure why, but knowing I had to be part of it.
Now I get it. Last week, due to the forecasted blizzard to begin Tuesday afternoon, I pushed to finish up my newspaper, The Prince George's Sentinel, before the snow started. I met our print deadline and put the content on the Web before the first flake fell late Tuesday afternoon. In the past, that would have been good enough. In the past, I would have called it a week and begun to think about the next week's issue.
However, this time, I found myself snowbound and logging into my computer remotely nearly five or six times per day. In the past, I would have spent a lot of time on the phone with our freelance reporters and photographers to send in photos and story ideas for the next issue.
This time, I actually realized what engaging your audience meant. I invited our online audience and social media followers and friends to send in photos and comments. I found our readers, at the ready, to send in their comments and photos. Boom! Stories, comments and photos were uploaded to the site within minutes. We were in this together! Our readers didn't have to wait to read about it and see our photos a week later.
Then, as I kept a watch on the TV news and the press releases from the governor's office about various things, I updated the Web site on a regular basis, including up-to-the minute photos. It was exciting.
Yes, I finally get it. Unfortunately, our office staff has shrunk so much that most of this work falls on me. But, that's OK. I'm ready, willing and able to do whatever it takes to stay alive in the profession I love.