April 16th marked exactly one year since I started working at the Statesman. It seems like just yesterday that I was observing six months. Time flies when you’re juggling a dozen projects and multiple deadlines. I can’t say that I’ve learned too many new things in the past six months, but I have deepened my knowledge of topics that were already in my bag of tricks. And of course we built and/or launched some new features.
Shiny, happy features
These are just the highlights of the past six months. Obviously we did a lot more than four things, but a lot of it was behind the scenes. For example, I set up a new Web server and moved ten of our external sites over to it. You didn’t notice? Perfect. Anyway, the high points were:
- More blogs (up to about 15 now)
- New site search (powered by Planet Discover)
- New events calendar (powered by Zvents)
- Assorted Yahoo! stuff (part of a new partnership)
On the horizon
The next three months or so will be extremely busy with at least four sizable projects in the works as well as a dozen or so little ones. There’s never a dull moment at the Statesman. Sorry, I can’t say anything more about the upcoming stuff until it launches. You’ll just have to stay tuned.
It’s no secret that many newspaper companies are struggling to adjust to changes affecting the industry. Some of these changes are cyclical while others are sadly systemic. I often joke that we share a morbid problem with tobacco companies: our customers are dying. The obvious difference is that newspapers don’t kill people, but we still have to find new readers somehow. A lot of very savvy people are working on these problems day and night, but the outlook still isn’t too good in the near term.
The Statesman (like many McClatchy papers) has undertaken some cost cutting measure in the past several months. The paper is narrower now and has fewer pages to save on newsprint. During the current hiring freeze, several people have left the newsroom and not been replaced. Recently we’ve seen a couple involuntary layoffs. While I’m confident that we will emerge from this in a strong position, I’m not sure what the company will look like or how many people will be left. At least for now, I feel like my job is safe. However, in these turbulent times I’ll close with a classic Magic 8 Ball response: “Ask again later.”