One of the most gratifying experiences in the eight months since assuming responsibility of publishing the Rappahannock News has been the creation of the newspaper’s Web site: www.rappnews.com.
The community’s reaction has been almost unanimously positive. Especially meaningful was the endorsement by the seasoned journalist Jim Gannon, who had earlier created his own site, called RappVoice. Jim’s business plan had been eventually to start charging readers for access to his site. And that is what we are contemplating now.
But before we actually do make any changes in the RappNews Web site, we would like very much to hear from you, our loyal readers. What changes, if any, do you think we should make?
For those of you who read only the newspaper’s print version that you now hold in your hands, it probably doesn’t matter. But many of our print readers also like the convenience and ease of calling up our stories on your computer, then possibly forwarding a particular story to friends or instantly posting an electronic “letter to the editor” in response to that story.
You print subscribers would continue to have unlimited access to the Web site as part of your already paid subscription.
But for those of you do not already subscribe to print version of the paper, there might be a charge of some kind to read the paper online. That would be only fair – already-paying readers would no doubt agree.
In this new digital age to which traditional publishers are learning to adapt, however, things are not so simple as outlined above – no longer black and white, so to speak. For example, does limiting who can access our Web site mean important stories that should be disseminated will not be read by those very people most affected?
Publishers a lot smarter than I have been puzzling about these kinds of questions for the last few years. So any help and ideas you can suggest would be appreciated.