In a few weeks you will notice some exciting changes with our websites, and we hope you like what you see.
In an effort to update our sites and organize stories, videos, photos and all other content in a way that makes more sense for our readers, we have made some changes that will soon go into effect.
In October, you will notice that our sites are more dynamic, providing you with the categories that you’ve asked for and presented in a logical format that makes them easily accessible. You will still access the site using the familiar URL that you already have bookmarked in your favorites, but you will also be able to access our other sites that are part of our larger ECM Publishers family. In fact, once we launch the new sites, you can view all those various sites under an umbrella site known as hometownsource.com. It gives you a glimpse of the top stories from throughout our various locations. From there you can launch into any of our 20 different sites or you can simply go directly to the site that is of most interest to you.
One change that will be apparent right away is certain stories will be identified with a gold check mark. Those stories are considered premium content. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Our featured stories and photos will be provided front and center, along with breaking news across the top of the page. But what follows are some of your favorite categories, based on data that shows which types of stories and content you read the most, such as local news, community news, business news, sports, government, education, opinions, public safety and more.
You will also notice we’ve added a section that will highlight the stories that you have selected as most popular, based on how many of you have accessed those stories. We will have a dedicated section that also spotlights the latest news stories, so you don’t have to sift through several categories to determine what is “the” most current, and occasionally we will have an area where you can participate in a poll, whether that is to cast your vote on a local road project proposal or whether you think the high school volleyball team has a chance to make it to the state tourney.
Public notices, announcements, obituaries and weather will also be easily available. And you have the ability to send us news tips and photos through our submission forms section that you will find in the navigation bar across the top.
All of these changes, and there will be more unrolled as we move through the year, are being made to enhance and improve the sites for you.
Of course we will be interested to hear your feedback so we know what areas can be further improved.
The one significant change that I mentioned earlier deals with premium content, those stories identified by a gold check mark. To access those stories you will need to become a registered user.
When you click on a story marked with the gold check mark, you will be asked to become a registered user. There is no fee to register, just a form to be completed. Once submitted you will be given full access to all stories and content.
We recognize this is a change for our sites, especially since we have never asked readers to become members in order to receive full access to our content. There will still be many stories that everyone will be able to access without a membership, so if you are not a regular visitor to our sites you will still be able to get a taste.
Breaking news, public safety alerts or top sports scores will all still be available to everyone. You will also still have full access to calendar items, obituaries and all public notices. But we also hope our readers understand the time and effort that we invest every day in bringing you news, information and other valuable content, and that you will help support that commitment by becoming a member of our online family. This is part of a process we’ve initiated to maintain and solidify our partnership with our readers as a provider of important information for all of our communities.
If you have questions about a print or online subscription, contact our customer service department at 763-712-3544 or email us at: [email protected]
We hope you enjoy the new sites and we certainly welcome any feedback you care to provide. We’ll keep you posted in print and online once we release the exact launch date.
Our goal is to provide you with quality, accurate and meaningful content that brings value to your life and helps build strong communities. It is a responsibility that we cherish, protect and embrace. — Keith Anderson, ECM Publishers (Editor’s note: Anderson is the director of news for ECM Publishers. The Star News is a part of ECM Publishers.)