I have been at The Olympian through a lot of changes in my 21 years. Three corporate owners. Five publishers. And many initiatives to help the centuries-old field of newspaper journalism adapt to changing reader habits, changing technology (fax machines to smart phones!) and changing business models.
But nothing has been like the last decade as we’ve worked to keep up with mobile technology, and stay afloat during the Great Recession and the age of free information on the Internet.
The way our readers get their news is changing dramatically.
Today, many of you want breaking news on your phones. Live updates on Facebook and Twitter. Videos and photos on your tablets.
And many of you want in-depth, local stories in print and online.
We’re committed to changing quickly, too, making it easier to get the news you want, whenever you want it and in whatever form. Earlier this year, we adopted a new workflow and schedule that mean we are updating stories online more frequently and earlier in the day.
Starting Wednesday, we are making more changes to try to address the need for both quick coverage and in-depth journalism.
Because the majority of our online audience comes to us on a mobile device — in most cases a smartphone — we’ve engineered the changes with that in mind. We’re adding easier-to-read typefaces and adopting a design that makes it easier to navigate.
The Olympian will continue to focus our coverage on Thurston County and its communities, but using a new approach to storytelling that we are calling “layering” that will let you choose the way you want to consume the story, whether you just want to skim the headlines or dive deep and get all the details.
We’ll also be continuing our effort to add more video content — everything from mini-documentaries to short snippets of daily news.
In print, our new design will be more colorful and easier to read. The front-page design will change somewhat to provide a better guide to content throughout the paper. We’ll focus on one or two major stories of the day and highlight others inside the paper so you won’t miss them.
The new design also will reduce the amount of work necessary to produce the printed paper so we can commit a bigger proportion of our resources to newsgathering.
A new, biweekly “In Depth” page in print and online will examine important stories from many angles, so you can see what the impact is on our community. Those pages will appear on Wednesdays (when many of you are missing our old section on food, home and garden) and on Saturdays, when many of us have a little more time to read. Some of the stories on those pages will be what we call watchdog stories as we continue to keep a close eye on government in this state capital city.
As the news landscape continues to evolve, The Olympian is dedicated to changing with the times, and providing the best local content on any device you choose — whether it’s print, computer, tablet or mobile.
But one thing won’t change and that’s our commitment to public service journalism and to bringing you the news that affects our communities.
PUZZLES AND COMICS
We’ve made some changes in comics without much warning, and a week from now, we’ll be making some changes to the puzzles page. So let me do a little explaining.
First, let me apologize for not giving you all a heads-up about the changes to the comics page. That’s not the way I like to do business, and I’ll try to avoid springing things on you in the future. I know people are particularly attached to their favorite comic strips, and I’ve heard from many of you.
We made three changes: “For Better or For Worse,” “Get Fuzzy,” and “Stone Soup” are gone. We moved “Bizarro” and “Dilbert” from elsewhere in the paper to the comics page. And we added “Phoebe and Her Unicorn.”
Here’s the quick explanations for why:
A few weeks ago, we moved “Dilbert” to the comics page in place of “For Better or For Worse,” which has been recycling old strips since 2008. (Unfortunately, our page design vendor mistakenly put “For Better or For Worse” back on the page for one day, causing confusion for readers.)
Then we launched “Phoebe and Her Unicorn” by local artist Dana Simpson. Simpson grew up in Gig Harbor and lives in Auburn. She’s a graduate of our own Evergreen State College. Her strip is about a girl, her imaginary friend and her parents’ desire to let her live in her fantasy world. It’s published in more than 100 newspapers, and we decided it should run in the town where Simpson went to college.
“Phoebe” replaced “Get Fuzzy,” another strip by a cartoonist who quit drawing years ago.
Then we learned that the “Stone Soup” artist was ending her daily strip, so we replaced it with “Bizarro,” which ran on our puzzle page, to make room for another feature there.
Which brings me to the upcoming changes on the puzzles page, which take place Monday, Nov. 16. First, the good news: Nothing will be going away. But those of you who are Super Quiz fans will have to find the quiz on the page with the TV listings grid. There wasn’t enough room to keep it on the puzzles page.
That’s because we are adding the bridge column to the page (it now runs elsewhere) as well as a new puzzle called “Celebrity Cipher,” which is a cryptogram.
The final change: We are swapping out the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle for the New York Times crossword. The second crossword puzzle on the page will remain the same.
COLUMNIST BOOK SIGNING
Columnist Dorothy Wilhelm, who finds humor in the fine art of aging and shares it in her monthly column in The Olympian and The News Tribune, is going to do a book signing from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday at The Olympian, 111 Bethel St. NE, Olympia.
Wilhelm’s new book, “Better Every Day,” is a collection of some of her best columns written over the past 25 years. In it, she shares information on loss (How she caused the Seahawks to lose the Super Bowl), befriending wild life (The Frog Who Came In From The Cold), cooking tips (The Brownies are Burning), and intergenerational understanding (The End of The Sandwich Generation).
This book, her second, is a companion to last year’s “Catch The Christmas Spirit.”
Stop by and meet the author herself.
WHAT ARE YOU THANKFUL FOR?
Thanksgiving always seems to prompt people to take stock in what they appreciate and are grateful for. So, in that spirit, we are offering our readers a chance to share their appreciation by publishing short letters of gratitude on our opinion page on Thanksgiving Day.
If there is something you are giving thanks for, let us know in a brief letter not exceeding 200 words.
All letters will be edited for style and length; a phone number is required for verification. The deadline is Nov. 20.
We prefer that readers submit letters online at theolympian.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/submit-letter/.
Dusti Demarest: 360-357-0206