Here's the Scoop: March 12, 2008

A tangled web
Soon, probably in a few months, the Catskill Mountain News will be entering a new era. We’re going to have a thing called a website or is it web site? Doesn’t matter, we’re getting one.
For those of you not familiar with websites, I’ll provide a brief, non-technical description: they are these things whereby you can go on a computer and find out just about anything you wanted to know. Most of it that would probably be better unknown.
Websites, of course, would be useless without the benefit of the Internet, “a worldwide, publicly accessible series of interconnected computer networks that transmit data.” This sounds complicated and it took a bit of doing, but Al Gore and I plugged away until we finally invented this gadget.

A paper web?
Anyhow, the term newspaper and website may seem contradictory. The thing is, a lot of folks have grown accustomed having their news pretty much before it happens. That’s a drawback for the weekly newspaper business.
It’s obvious that websites can benefit daily newspapers because they often rely on breaking news. It was always tough enough for these guys to compete with the immediacy of TV reports, but at least a daily newspaper can dedicate plenty of space to a story — much more than a 30-second sound bite.
The weekly newspaper world is much different. First of all, weeklies are much more likely to pay attention to meetings, etc. that dailies often ignore. After all, there are seven days between issues and reporters have to do something — they can’t spend all their time surfing the ’net. Unless the meeting hall where they’re “working” is equipped with wireless Internet access. Just kidding.
People tend to overlook the urgency of meeting deadlines for weekly newspapers. This is mostly done by reporters. After all, a week is not that long. Approximately seven days.
That leaves a lot of time for gathering news. And the aforementioned web surfing.
On the downside, a week between issues leaves tons of time for “news” stories to become “olds” stories.
This is particularly true at election time when this paper is on the press as ballots are being counted. By the time we publish results are not only long known, but those elected are already backtracking on campaign promises.
Such issues will certainly change when the News makes its website “live.” It will be nice to post results of “current” issues. For me, though, the best thing about the website will be the ability to “fix” mistakes.
Believe it or not, we sometimes have typographical errors in the paper! Yes, it’s true. I know you may find this hard to believe, but some “typos” do slip through. When one looks back on older issues, it’s funny how those errors never go away. In fact, they seem to grow larger.
Such typos will continue to exist in the printed version of the News, but at least we’ll be able to make corrections to such oversights in the web version. That’s the place where mistakes can conveniently be eliminated at any time. A news writer’s dream!