CHARLES TOWN – Jefferson County’s oldest newspaper now has the newest website around.
The Spirit of Jefferson today unveils a transformed web presence for its readers at www.spiritofjefferson.com.
Visitors to the site will find a home page that is easier to navigate and has more local photographs and other features.
Managing editor Robert Snyder said the new site mirrors the look of the printed edition and highlights elements from the four sections of the paper: News, Sports, Life and Business.
“We’ve worked hard since I came to the Spirit in August to increase content and better organize all our material,” Snyder said. “We want readers to have the richest possible experience. Now we have a website that showcases all those changes.”
Snyder says it’s also important to him that the website offer readers engaging elements that are possible only in a digital format.
“Newspapers sometimes make the mistake of putting online only what’s in the paper,” he said. “What’s nice about websites is that you don’t have the space limitations of the print edition.”
A news story published on the paper’s website also allows hyperlink functions that give readers instant access to related official documents, background information and other extras, Snyder said.
“We want to take better advantage of the online platform. This will allow us to tell stories not just through photos and the written word, but to complement them with audio, video and interactive features.”
What websites are also good for is in archiving older material, he said.
“When you’re reading a new development of an already unfolding story, I like to have that older material at my disposal, rather than have to go through stacks of old papers, or even scroll through a ledger of older stories, and good archiving and hyperlinks are a way to help keep that at hand.”
Snyder said he also envisions using the two formats to bounce off one another, to preview material that will appear in the next print edition and to lure print readers to the website by teasing previews of stories that would be exclusive to that format.
The site also will include audio broadcasts with Spirit reporter Bryan Clark’s Wednesday morning chats on “Panhandle Live,” the popular WEPM radio news program hosted by Hans Fogle.
Look for the site to also create quality digital advertising opportunities for local businesses, said Publisher Craig See.
“The redesign has allowed us to build more depth into our digital advertising platform,” See said. “We have created space for any budget. Using flat rate pricing instead of complicated metrics will allow for small business owners to better budget and understand where there advertising dollars are being spent.”
Redesigning the site has allowed the Spirit to use new technology for subscription services. The site will utilize the Cleeng subscription service, which will allow readers to subscribe in a digital-on-demand platform. Readers will be able to choose from a multitude of options including a monthly subscription for $4.95 or a weekly pass for $1.25. Individual articles can also be purchased for a nominal fee.
The redesigned website will be constantly updated with breaking news and other fresh content. Published as a weekly since before the Civil War, the Spirit now becomes an around-the-clock source for all kinds of local news and information.