From the Editor’s Desk: Be part of our digital journalism journey | Columnists

During my two decades in the world of journalism, the evolution of the dissemination of information remains closely linked to the high-speed change of technological advances.

My first job as a designer – also known as a reviewer – focused on wrapping content into a page that appealed to the reader. At the time, broadband was still a new technology and many people relied on the print newspaper for a daily dose of local news.

A few years later, the web craze caught on and people found they could sit behind a computer screen and browse the latest headlines. These early news websites were quite clunky – and slow – compared to today’s simplified sites and were only updated once a day (usually by the page designer/editor who had the final version of the edited stories).

We soon realized – as websites became more robust – that we had the power to re-enter the news business at the last minute, something the print newspaper could only do once a day.

The company – Media General at the time before a series of acquisitions – was wading into the new digital medium and bringing in employees to participate in workshops and initiatives for new projects. There was a session where the presenter listed a set of goals launched by the participants. My editor at the time suggested we look at ways to bring news to cellphones, still the flip-style gadgets where texting meant learning how many times to press a specific number.

People also read…

  • Lawsuit accuses Pittsylvania County concert promoter of breach of contract, seeks $170,000
  • Virginia could be approaching the peak of the omicron wave
  • With upsurge in COVID-19 cases in Dan River area, three outbreaks appear at Averett University
  • After losing 14 votes in 2021, Pittsylvania County will ask sales tax question again
  • Cold front resulting in consecutive minor snowfalls in the Danville area
  • After legal action, payments flow to companies owed by Blue Ridge Rock Festival
  • Henry County inmate dead, two charged
  • Senator Louise Lucas, 77, is Virginia’s newest social media star after a hectic inauguration weekend
  • Basement fire damages Danville home on Saturday afternoon
  • Hospitalizations on the rise again at Sovah Health-Danville, extending pause on elective procedures
  • Investigators: The NC nursing home had 3 staff for 98 patients as of Sunday. 2 residents dead, 2 others in critical condition.
  • Real estate transfers in the Dan River area
  • Cracker Barrel ordered to pay man $9.4million after he was served chemical in drinking glass
  • Technician dies while working on escalator at Virginia Mall
  • Watch now: Nearly $800,000 from HUD to help people living in subsidized housing in Danville become self-sufficient

My first thought was “why would people want news on their phone? After some talking, it suddenly started to make sense.

Fast forward to today and the overwhelming majority of our digital traffic comes from smartphones. More and more people consume their news on these tiny computers that fit in a pocket.

While the medium has changed, the mission has not. We are here to tell the story of the community. Whether it’s covering major events and crimes, government meetings or profiling the adventures of our neighbours.

Sometimes it’s those heart-warming pieces that have the most impact.

For example, Register & Bee reporter John Crane’s story about a cat that was hit by a car and left for dead before a Christmas Eve operation was picked up by The Associated Press and published in newspapers and websites across the country.

Crane used words, photos and video to tell the story, the latter being tailored specifically for our digital audience.

Another play about a local kid’s flying teddy bear – first reported by freelancer Susan Elzey – has found its way to national television. Austin Robinette, 8, from Danville, left his beloved furry friend on a plane in October. The flight attendant eventually tracked down the family to reunite Teddy, as he is known, with Robinette, after spending time with the crew and pilots.

We also chronicle every step of the projects in Danville, including a casino, which have the power to transform the area into a major tourist destination.

Here are some of the impactful stories we produce every day, not just for our print edition, but for people who prefer to have content digitally. We recently updated our website to make it easier for you to view these stories, photos and videos.

If you would like to help us continue to tell the stories of the Dan River region, please consider becoming a digital subscriber. We have a winter special for $5.99 a month – less than the price of a fast food lunch – for three months. This gives you full access to all of the stories online as well as the e-edition, which is a digital replica of the print newspaper.

Consider joining us on our digital journey.

Wilborn is the publisher of the Danville Register & Bee.

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