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Technology changes fast, but mission remains the same

Considering I began my career in journalism at a newspaper that used hot lead and Linotype machines in its type-setting process, I hope you can appreciate how amazing I believe the reality of World Wide Web-based electronic newspapers is.

Today you can access our online newspaper, www.clantonadvertiser.com, from your home computer, a lap top computer or even your telephone that is equipped to dial in to the Internet or connect through a WiFi system. This past week our 11-month old online newspaper reached a milestone in that it had been viewed more than 1,000,000 times. Readers of the edition have viewed more than 4.5 million pages on the site in its first year.

Our news staff produces our online edition and its sister publication, The Clanton Advertiser, five days each week in hopes of providing an up-to-date report of news occurring in Chilton County for our readers. Our www.clantonadvertiser.com is updated with breaking news when it occurs. It is truly a live news report.

Next month our staff plans to add yet another daily news report that will be designed to put the news of the area no further away than your email. The edition will be emailed to people throughout Chilton County Tuesday through Saturday each week.

There are currently more than 1,500 on the email list and we would like to sign you up to receive the free email updates too. Simply log on to our Web site and click on the “news in your inbox” sign-up button.

Like most others industries, in the four decades I have been a part of the newspaper industry, the means of printing and distributing news has changed many times. I’m sure it will continue to change as we move further into the 21st Century.

What remains constant in my business is our effort to inform readers by including “who, what, when and where” in every story. In addition to those four Ws, writers should tell you “why” their story is important to you or readers.

The need to gather and report news (because others want and need to know) will continue long after I have written my last news article. I have been privileged to work in and see the newspaper industry evolve into what it is today. I am envious of people on our editorial staff like Tim Reeves, Scott Mims, Stephen Dawkins and Joelle Motes who will be a part of moving the profession into new realms of reporting and distribution in the decades to come.

When I joined a newspaper staff in 1965, I would read “Dick Tracy” in the comic section of the newspaper and laugh about the wrist radio that Dick used to communicate with others. I thought such a thing was only in the imagination of the cartoonist and would never be possible.

Little did I know. Today this column and our entire newspaper can be uploaded to and I can read it on the small screen of the iPhone clipped to my belt. Even Dick Tracy couldn’t do that.

– Mike Kelley’s column appears each Weekend. You can reach him at mike.kelley@clantonadvertiser.com.