I get this question from readers of a certain age (like me, born before 1960) all the time: How long do you think there will be a printed newspaper?
My answer? Nobody knows. I expect it will be quite a while longer, although the format and scope are sure to keep changing dramatically.
Younger readers (and actually many older ones) prefer to get their information digitally. And not only digitally, but on mobile devices — smartphones and tablets.
That’s why the Star-Telegram is so intent on becoming a multi-platform company that produces great digital content in addition to print.
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Our newsroom, our advertising department and our audience department are all focused on the same thing: How to make our digital content more appealing and how to use the audience we draw to generate more revenue so we can continue to serve our community with great journalism.
Our corporate parent, The McClatchy Co., now makes more than 60 percent of its revenue from categories other than print advertising, and that ratio is changing at an ever-quicker pace.
One thing we’re doing at the Star-Telegram is experimenting with different ways to deliver digital content that will satisfy the needs of our audience, and today we’re presenting a new tablet app that we think holds great promise.
It’s called S-T Tonight, and it’s designed to deliver the best journalism from tomorrow’s newspaper tonight.
At 6 p.m. Monday through Friday we’ll post the latest edition for readers to download in our app, which is available via Apple’s iTunes Store. It will feature five or six local stories that we believe are our most interactive, most immersive and most engaging content.
Although most of those stories will appear in the next day’s newspaper in some form, you won’t see all of them. The storytelling in the app features video, photo galleries and interactive graphics that you can’t reproduce in a printed newspaper.
The Friday edition will serve as our “weekend” edition and, because we know many of you have more time on the weekends, it will include more stories than the versions we deliver Monday through Thursday. We also have plans to update the Friday edition over the weekend.
S-T Tonight is not intended to be a breaking news vehicle, although we plan to add a section at the end with some news headlines from star-telegram.com. But our responsive website and our other mobile apps are where you should really go on your digital device to get the latest news.
Eventually, we hope to use this new tablet app to publish special single-topic editions when warranted, such as fast and deep coverage of a major news event.
Tonight is intended to feature our most in-depth journalism and to take advantage of the wonderful sharpness and clarity of photography on the tablet, as well as give us the ability to tell stories through video and interactive graphics.
You’ll find a mix of storytelling throughout the week featuring diverse topics drawn from news, business, sports, opinion, entertainment and the arts.
Kathy Vetter, our managing editing for digital; Michael Currie, our design director; Rick Press, our editor for tablet and video; and Sarah Huffstetler, our recently retired deputy managing editor for visuals and user experience, led the development of S-T Tonight with help from many others throughout the newsroom and McClatchy.
McClatchy thought so much of the potential of this new app that it honored the team with a President’s Award, one of only 12 handed out by the company this year for innovation in its newsrooms.
To get the latest edition of S-T Tonight, go to the iTunes Store, search for Fort Worth Star-Telegram and download the app. It’s free for now, with no digital subscription required. At some point we intend to offer a push notification so you’ll be reminded every day to get the latest edition.
And before you ask — no, there is no Android version yet. If this venture is a success, we plan to add an Android app to the Play Store. For now, we’re concentrating on the iPad, which makes up the largest share of our tablet audience.
We think a daily digital publication such as S-T Tonight offers a “lean-back experience,” delivered at a time when your hectic day is over and you can read for enjoyment.
Please let us know what you think.
Jim Witt is executive editor of the Star-Telegram. 817-390-7704