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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Introducing the "Web Page"

For a few months now, I've been cryptically alluding to my plans to change my "Weekly Post" column that appears in the newspaper each week, on the Letters to the Editor page.

In the Weekly Post, which premiered in 2005, I spotlighted a blog post from a Vermont blog, as a way of connecting Seven Days readers to the local blogosphere.

But though I've some gotten positive feedback about the column over the years, I've never thought it worked the way I intended it to. The intent was to drive traffic to Vermont blogs. Because I linked to the blog posts from my blog, I probably did drive some traffic, but I'm not sure I ever accomplished that through printing the blog post in the newspaper.

I've been thinking about how to change this feature, and I think I've hit upon a way to make it work better for all of us  — bloggers and readers alike. I'm not ready to implement my idea yet, and I don't want to talk about it too much until I do. Suffice it to say that I think this new plan will do a better job of connecting our readers with Vermont blog content.

In the meantime, I'm saying good-bye to the print-version of the Weekly Post, in favor of a new, expanded section called "The Web Page." The name is admittedly not very clever (Don, our creative director, described it as "uncharacteristically bland," which sounds right to me), but at least it explains what it is.

Basically, The Web Page will feature a few short excerpts from our many Seven Days blogs, and it will highlight one or more of our web content features each week. This week I filled up a bunch of space with comments about busking on Church Street, from my blog and from our online poll.

I'm hoping that having this space to fill will push us to do more online-only content. I'm also hoping that drawing attention to our online and interactive features in this way will let more people know that there's something to see online. I doubt that people will actually put down the newspaper and log on to a computer to check out the stuff online, but at least having this space in the print paper will help publicize the fact that there's something going on.

I'll continue to name a post of the week here on my blog, at least for the time being, until I'm ready to roll out my new plan. I have no idea how long that'll take to implement, since it involves harnessing the power of other very busy members of our web team.

I hope all you Vermont bloggers aren't too disappointed that the Weekly Post will no longer appear in print. I really think there's got to be a better way to do what I was trying to do with it.

May 22, 2007 at 03:39 PM in The Weekly Post | Permalink


Well I am proud to have my blog featured in the last printed Weekly Post. Good luck with the new version!

Posted by: Bill Simmon | May 22, 2007 5:07:48 PM

It's too bad Seven Days can't do both in the paper, i.e., feature good in-house blogging content and continue to dedicate some real estate to a recent good VT post. However, I'm sure that the online content represents a substantial expense, and it makes sense to both highlight it and make use of it in the paper.

This is a good opportunity for me to thank Seven Days for its ongoing commitment to online content in general and blogging in particular. I feel amazingly lucky to have such an valuable resource in my community.

Posted by: Nato | May 22, 2007 11:51:04 PM

Hey, thanks, Nato. Yeah, I sort of wish we could keep plugging local blogs in the paper, but I also think it never really worked the way I wanted it to, as I said above.

The biggest problem with plugging blog content in the newspaper is that you can't replicate the linking experience. The print reproduction is often a poor copy of the original web version.

And it was a problem, too, that I had such limited space for the blog posts. There were so many great blogs and posts that never got featured because the content wouldn't fit the space, or because it relied too heavily on links.

I'm actually not a huge fan of promoting our own blog posts in the paper for these reasons, which is why I'm only putting in excerpts. I'm using the space more as a tool to let people know what's online.

And I promise, this move has nothing to do with wanting to do LESS promotion of local blogs. On the contrary, I want to do more, and I want to do it better.

Posted by: cresmer | May 23, 2007 7:53:08 AM

I support whatever you want to do, Cathy. And I understand what you're saying about how hard it is to reproduce the web experience in print.

I'm grateful though, for the time or two you featured my writing in the post of the week. It sort of felt like a back door way of actually writing something for Seven Days.

Posted by: Haik Bedrosian | May 24, 2007 10:46:42 PM

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