Let's put your photos and thoughts on the web

Can we quote you on that?

With our new website, you could be one of our most important sources. Computer technology opens up some exciting possibilities for newspaper journalism.

One of the most intriguing is our ability to tell you about the stories we're working on for the following week. This gives you an opportunity to comment on them.

We may include what you say in a news or feature story. We ask just a couple of things. First, you respond via email. Second, you must give a verifiable telephone number and address.

That's so we have the chance to follow up with more questions or just make sure someone isn't using your name.

Our new website makes talking back to us easier than ever. All you have to do is click on a reporter's byline and you will get plugged directly into his or her email.

You can find similar links to Publisher Nancy Adams, Advertising Manager Linda Friesen, myself and numerous other newspaper employees.

Don't wait until you have a news tip or a comment on an upcoming story. Feel free to contact us with whatever you have on your mind. We are always eager to hear from our readers.

That's the beauty of 21st century technology. Hometown journalism is always about creating a running conversation with the community. Now the conversation can take place at the speed of light.

We have a lot of ideas for this new capability. One thing I want to do is collect photos of Polk County from our readers.

Email them to me and, every day, I will post a new one on the website. Readers can register their votes for their favorite photos. The top vote-getter will be published every week in the paper.

Beginning next week, we will be starting our election coverage with a wide range stories covering the candidates and the issues. That coverage will be reflected in the website.

The website will also offer all sorts of interactive goodies where you can make your opinion known on the election. So please, bookmark it.

Websites make some newspaper people a little skittish. After all, the website offers a lot of the same information as the weekly newspaper. Are we competing with ourselves?

If so, the newspaper (that which pays our salaries) could suffer. That old motherly advice comes to mind. "Who is going to buy the cow when they can get the milk for free?"

We're not worried. We're still a newspaper with a website, not a website with a newspaper. The website enables us to provide up-to-the-minute sports scores, election results and other breaking news.

It can also provide some of the highlights from the week's newspaper.

But the website tells only part of the story. For thorough coverage, you still need to turn to ink and paper. The website can never go as in depth as the actual newspaper. It can't include all the advertising, news and opinions.

What it can do, however, is create an open channel between readers and writers, between the newspaper and its community.

As that kind of tool, the internet is unparalleled in human history. We plan to make the most of it. We hope you do too. We want to know what you think and feel about us and the communities which we all share.

The 21st century promises to be an exciting time, a renewed opportunity to re-connect as neighbors and friends. Together, let's form those links. Our website address is @www.itemizerobserver.com.@ My email is @VHenderson@eaglenewspapers.com.@


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