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News comes in new ways (the old way, too)

Published: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 1:47 p.m. CDT

Make no mistake about it: print is still a huge part of the newspaper business.

Despite what some people think.

A list circulating on the Internet suggests “24 things babies born in 2014 may never know.

No. 9 on the list is this: Newspapers – In days before everyone had computers at home and in their pockets, printing presses made paper versions of websites. People would then drive around and throw them on your lawn.

Funny, but false.

Babies born this year will count on local newspapers for information about their schools and their communities.

Not all of them will pick up the print edition each day, but they will all turn to newspapers – in some form – for the news that hits closest to home.

People get hung up on the word “paper.”

We’re Sauk Valley Media – whether you are reading in print, online, or some other form.

That should cover it.

NEWSPAPER WORK used to be pretty simple.

Work all day. Put a newspaper on the streets. Come back tomorrow and do it again.

Not anymore.

While we still publish a print edition once a day, the word “publish” has been expanded in this digital age.

Staff members send out text alerts whenever news develops, post news updates on our website, and share the news on Facebook. They occasionally will tweet developments (in 140 characters or less) from courtrooms, meeting rooms and sporting events.

Our job still involves working all day.

But we don’t wait until tomorrow to publish again.

We do it now – whenever now happens to be.

AS YOU MIGHT imagine, digital devices have greatly expanded our audience.

Each month, we get more than 1.6 million total page views through our website, mobile and tablet audiences.

That involves nearly half a million total visits and more than 200,000 unique visitors.

Our Facebook pages have more than 13,000 friends.

Staff tweets are followed by more than 5,000 people.

People want information in different forms.

We aim to deliver.

DIFFERENT KINDS of readers also means different kinds of issues for editors and reporters.

Our new website includes a feature for readers to report story comments that they find objectionable.

When that happens, editors get an email notice and are able to review the comments in question.

During our recent coverage of the fatal shooting at a Rock Falls bar, one reader posted a comment that started like this.

This will be happening more often ’cause of the new concealed carry law, mark my words on it. ...

Another reader objected to the comment and notified us.

For the record, let us say that editors will not remove a comment just because you disagree with the opinion stated.

We will take down comments for the usual reasons, which mostly involve personal attacks, vulgar or profane language, or libelous statements.

Criticizing public officials and public figures is fine as long as it involves the performance of their official duties. That isn’t considered personal, even if the motive for the comment might be.

So, keep it clean and reasonably civil.

But feel free to express a disagreeable opinion.

FACEBOOK READER Maria objected to some comments that, she said, “you guys took .... down.”

We hadn’t done that, actually, but only because Facebook beat us to it.

As online editor Angel Sierra explained to her, “Our Facebook page has a profanity filter that may sometimes automatically pull comments down.”

If you wonder what kinds of words prompt comments to be taken down, think of comedian George Carlin’s “Seven dirty words you can’t say on TV.”

In case you don’t know what they are, take a guess.

You’ll probably be pretty close.

FOR THOSE TENS of thousands of readers who still count on the printed edition of this newspaper, your paper is coming for years to come.

Of course, that means somebody has to deliver it.

You might have read the recent letter to the editor about a newspaper carrier whose car got stuck in the snow during an especially cold January morning.

“I felt sorry for the man; he was just trying to do his job, but really?” the letter said. “The Gazette prints the story on the front page for people not to travel, but they don’t tell their rural drivers to stay home.

“... I don’t think getting Monday’s paper was an emergency.”

Some readers might disagree.

We note that the mail was delivered that same cold and snowy winter day.

That fact likely would have been mentioned to us by a disappointed reader who didn’t get his paper that morning if we had failed to deliver.

Besides, our home delivery crew is every bit as hardy and dedicated as the courageous carriers of the U.S. Postal Service.

Neither rain, nor sleet ...

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