COLUMN: Perry Bergson — Oct. 9, 2012

Perry Bergson
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The Daily Herald now has a mobile version of our website available.

Some old-school newspaper folks are, quite frankly, a little befuddled by the technical revolution going on around us.

In the good old days, if you worked at a weekly newspaper, your big scoop was still a major deal a week later. Oh, how times have changed.

With Twitter and Facebook and the Internet in general, the news cycle has become a 24-hour beast that needs to be fed constantly.

One of my major headaches when I arrived in Prince Albert was wrapping my head around the technology. The Daily Herald’s owners, TC, are major players online and are understandably trying to move their newspapers in that direction.

I’ll admit that it took me some time to understand the concept of our website; my first loyalty has always been to the paper product that you might be holding in your hands right now.

I still love the tactile sensation of a newspaper and the task of turning pages. Wherever I go, I always grab a newspaper because I feel like it gives me a special insight into that spot that other new media simply don’t.

Each morning when I get to the Daily Herald, I love to see that day’s front page. It also connects with me in a way that other media doesn’t.

But there can’t be any surprises in those thoughts. I’m sure my friends in radio feel just as strongly about their chosen medium.

The war for your attention is being fought in areas where I’m not entirely comfortable. I cling to the belief that wide swathes of the Internet are populated by anonymous keyboard warriors who are quick to criticize and slow to provide any kind of constructive element to the discussion.

The beauty of instant unedited communication is also its downfall.

The more I thought about it, the more it became clear to me that newspapers need to provide a robust presence in the online world. We’ve always been the media of record that people go back to decades later for the story from the time it happened.

Now it’s important that we provide truth and strong journalism in an online world rife with rumour and opinion.

The Daily Herald has made one giant step and one decidedly tiny one on that front in recent weeks.

We’ll start with the underwhelming.

Every Thursday I will now be doing a brief video recap of the top stories from our website from the past week.

I write this with a great deal of trepidation; my friends have already been quick to pile on after my week one effort.

My good fortune is having a group of friends eager to take glee in my mistakes. (And to be fair, I wouldn’t hesitate to return the favour.)

I’m the first to tell you that Peter Mansbridge isn’t exactly laying off the kitchen staff because he’s in fear for his job. I’m a words guy who like lots of time to edit and re-edit.

It’s not a nerve-wracking task but it is one where every misspoken word could be the bump that completely throws you off the rails.

The other news is much bigger and more important.

The Daily Herald’s website is now available in a mobile form. That news wouldn’t have meant much to me before I came to Prince Albert and was handed a fancy iPhone. I’m now regularly online with the phone, which is not exactly uncommon.

The new website makes accessible to our readers anytime, anywhere you have a signal. There are no downloads and no fussing around to set us up. It’s instant access.

When you access the website, you can read anything you want or even watch videos of an editor’s ham-fisted attempts at almost live broadcasting.

It has proven to be an instant success. More than 9,000 people used their mobile device to access the website in September, an impressive number for a feature that went live this summer.

It’s not the same for someone like me who loves the sound of a wrinkling newspaper page. But it’s the future.

And the Daily Herald is going to be here for a long time in whatever format comes next, delivering the news with an old-fashioned eye on quality.

Organizations: Daily Herald, Prince Albert

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