Danville Express

Column - February 9, 2007

Diablo Views: Entering the 21st century

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Do you ever read the Danville Weekly online? Starting today, we have a new Web site, designed to be up-to-date and interactive with readers.

As soon as we have news, we will put it on our Web site. The online stories may begin with just a paragraph while we flesh out the details. The weekly print edition delivered to your homes will still have the full story. We can post more photographs online than we have room for in the newspaper. And our new online edition includes polls and a Town Square forum for readers to write their news and opinions. We are excited about coming into the 21st century with our new Web site and becoming more interactive with our readers.

The challenge for the Danville Weekly staff, and me in particular, is getting all this information onto our Web site. Our jobs will be the same - delivering the news. But the means will be high tech, which, I must admit, is not my specialty.

I majored in journalism, umpteen years ago, because I loved to write and found gathering and reporting the news to be exciting. What could be better than a license to be nosy? The atmosphere in the San Jose State newsroom was electric as we all banged away on the manual typewriters, word-smithing the campus news. This being the late '60s, there was a lot to report. I remember one afternoon when we were all coughing and teary-eyed as we typed away, after covering a demonstration that had been broken up by the police with tear gas.

When I was associate editor at the Spartan Daily, I gathered the typed stories complete with editing marks to move phrases and sentences, to correct spellings, and to add some words and subtract others, and gave them with a sketched dummy of the editorial page to the pressman. He shortly would give me galley proofs to read before he arranged the stories and photos according to my dummy.

Anyway, my point is, I never dreamed I'd have to learn much about computers to do my job. I never even thought that computers might get smaller than the room-size Univac of the '50s.

It was 20 years after college when I first tackled word processing on a computer. My teenage son was short-tempered as he kept telling me: "Don't hit 'return' at the end of a line, just at the end of a paragraph." He finally declared: "No one over 40 should be allowed to touch a computer." Oh, well, I figured, luckily I'd never need to learn more about computers than word-processing.

Flash forward 10 years when I was employed as an editor of five weekly newspapers. Editors still designed the news pages, as in the "old days," but instead of dummy sheets, we laid them out directly on a computer page that went electronically to the presses. I loved it! Once I became proficient at it. And this is where I stand now - I'm learning how to put the news online so it becomes second nature to me. So any time you go to www.DanvilleWeekly.com you will see the news from Danville, Alamo, Blackhawk and Diablo, plus have a chance to weigh in with news and opinions, and add events yourself to our community calendar.

Our parent company, Embarcadero Publishing Co., began the Palo Alto Weekly some 27 years ago when the founder Bill Johnson saw the need for a quality community newspaper. In 1994, he recalls, a computer "geek" came to him offering to put the Palo Alto Weekly on the World Wide Web. Bill says he'd never even heard of the Web at that point but the guy told him it would distinguish the Weekly as well as make a name for him. Even though he didn't understand it, Bill told him to go for it. And that is how my parent paper became the first newspaper in the entire world to have its contents completely presented online.

Now following this tradition and also keeping abreast of how more and more people like to receive their news, the Danville Weekly is offering its spiffy new Web site. Check it out.


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