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Jeff Pieters: Post Bulletin offers a new site to see

Check out our newly designed website; apply to join a readers advisory panel

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Wednesday was a pretty eventful day for us here at the Post Bulletin.

We covered car crashes in the morning fog, covered an unprecedented December thunderstorm in the dark of night, and in between we relaunched our website, postbulletin.com, powered by a new engine.

Or, at least, we tried to. Our 9 a.m. launch sputtered when the computer servers powering our site from the West Coast suffered a service outage. We didn’t get fully online until about lunchtime. Those morning hours sure were uncomfortable, knowing that readers were trying to visit our site and running into a blank screen instead.

Hopefully now that our problems are behind us and it is launched, you’ll find our new site to be an improvement over the old one. To my eye, it’s more visually interesting and more cleanly arranged. I’d like to point out a few more things about it.

  • It’s easier to get to the sections you want. Just click the “Sections” button at the top left-hand corner of the page, and a list of the sections will appear down the left margin of your screen. We’ve reduced the number of sections to make it easier for you to find categories of interest. For example, we’ve folded crime and court stories into Local News, and our 507 Magazine into Entertainment. 
  • That cleaner appearance I described has a direct benefit for you in a few areas: Generally speaking, a simpler site loads more quickly, and ours is further engineered to prevent that annoying bump-down that used to happen when the ad comes onto the page. (If you’re like me, you would often find yourself clicking on the wrong link because of that bump.) The simpler layout looks better on smartphones, too. Fun fact: More than half of our online readers visit our site on a mobile device.
  • The content management system – or what’s called the CMS, the software that our journalists use to write their stories and upload their photos – has changed, too. What’s nice about this CMS, called BrightSpot, is that it’s simpler to use and gives us more ability to customize how our stories are presented to you. The software vendor offers better customer support than we have had previously, too. This is the same CMS used by the L.A. Times, Politico and several other national media outlets.

There’s more I could tell you about this new site, but those are the biggest improvements. And there are definitely some loose ends we’re still tying up. Feel free to send me a note with your reaction to this change.

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Want to give an editor some advice?

The most important thing we’ve got at the Post Bulletin is not our website. It’s not the printing press, a computer, a camera, a reporter’s notebook or pen, or even the padded chair that keeps this editor’s bottom off the floor.

Nope, the most important thing we have is our readers. Not only is your interest in our work the basis of everything we have and do, but your insights can help us learn and discover better ways to serve your needs.

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That’s why, in 2022, we will reinstitute a program that we have had from time to time over the years: a Readers Advisory Panel.

I’d like a group of, say, six to 10 volunteers who are willing to meet with me and, occasionally, other members of my team one night a month for 12 months. We’ll talk about us – our successes and failures, the challenges of being a journalist in the 21st century, and ideas we’d like to share with you for your feedback. And we’ll talk about you – what you like or dislike about the paper, what you wish we’d add to it or remove, and what unmet information needs you have that we could potentially serve.

I’d like to attract as broad a cross-section of our readership as possible. Let’s have a mix of men and women; young and, um, well seasoned; and be as racially diverse as we can. I hope for a variety of incomes, blue collar and white collar workers, and of course representation across the political spectrum.

The only essential qualifications for this group is that you are interested in the Post Bulletin and local news, and that you can talk to somebody whose viewpoint may differ from yours without losing your mind. Oh yes – and you have to live in southeastern Minnesota, or at least have some tie to this region, because we’ll meet in person, to the extent that the public health situation allows it.

You can tell me about your own interest or you can nominate a friend. I’m reached at 507-285-7748 or email jpieters@postbulletin.com .

Jeff Pieters is editor of the Post Bulletin. He can be reached by phone, 507-285-7748, or email, jpieters@postbulletin.com .

Related Topics: ROCHESTER
Jeff Pieters is editor of the Post Bulletin. He joined the staff as a reporter in 2001, and has been editor since 2019. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7748 or jpieters@postbulletin.com.
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