As we approach the first anniversary of local ownership at the Review, we are starting to roll out some changes to our online site at hmbreview.com.
Here’s what’s happened already.
First, we’ve made some important changes to speed up the site, especially for mobile users. Since making those behind-the-scenes improvements, the site loads twice as fast. We think that is very important for us Coastsiders who go in and out of 4G territory, and often have connectivity issues.
Secondly, we made it easier for you to comment on stories by eliminating two steps (no more click here, then click there, etc.). We also display comments right away, without any extra clicks. We are already seeing an uptick in activity from these preliminary steps. At the same time, we eliminated the superfluous “ratings” that slowed things down.
Third, we added a new newsletter, sent each Monday, called “Weekday.” It’s a curated effort to let subscribers know in advance of the coolest events happening later in the week, while you still have time to plan for them.
So, what’s next?
Right now, you can only subscribe to the print edition, and our online-only users have no way to support local journalism. Beginning in May, we will offer online memberships. Current print subscribers will be automatically subscribed online, but you may need to provide your email address and choose a password so we can hook you up online. All users will have a choice of options to get full access, including pricey membership levels that will make an immediate difference in what we do, free memberships for those who can’t or don’t want to pay for access, and options in between that we think will allow for all readers to contribute in some way. Think public radio, but without the annoying membership drives.
A vibrant online site is crucial to maintaining relevance to all our readers, young and old. Over time, industry trends predict that online readers will eclipse print readers, and that has already happened on many sites. But the free press is not free. Our wonderful advertisers make it much more affordable for all of us to get the news, but increasingly, subscription/membership revenue is an important part of the equation. Your membership lets us continue to attract the great reporters, editors, business staff and publisher who are the heart and soul of this paper.
Please let us know what you think of these changes and anything else you would like to share about the Review. We’ll use your feedback and ideas about how we can serve the community better. You can reach me by emailing email@example.com, or share your thoughts with all by commenting online on this article. Keep us honest and help us practice the best journalism possible, both in print and online.
Rich Klein is an El Granada resident and on the board of the Coastside News Group Inc., which recently purchased the Half Moon Bay Review.