From the editor's desk: Community of online readers, writers growing
In the back corner of the Bulletin office, we have shelves of books that contain all the old issues of the paper dating back to 1962.
Some of the best reads we find paging through those old editions are the columns. In past years we had columns by a fashion writer, a county home agent (covering topics like what to look for in a new carpet), a women's consultant (sample topic -- how to prevent kids' injuries in the summertime) and multiple society writers who knew what everyone was up to -- from who visited whom, to residents' vacation destinations to updates on those hospitalized.
As kitschy as these old features seem at first glance -- is the information in those society columns really that different from what you get nowadays on Facebook? And the columns by local experts contain similar information to what's distributed through websites and blogs.
I suspect some of these features might have disappeared from newspapers due to lack of space, but the unlimited space and ease of publishing online is providing a new platform for millions of experts and amateur writers. The only problem now with the ease of publishing is that it can be hard for readers to sift through all the content out there to find what they want, and similarly it can be hard for a lone writer to stand out from the crowd.
Areavoices.com -- a WordPress-based blogging tool that works with the Bulletin website -- is our little island within the ocean of information. The website gives anyone interested the tools to create their own site within minutes, but also gives us at the Bulletin the option to link directly to that site from our homepage and through our tag words.
If you visit swcbulletin.com, you might have noticed that we've already added a few voices to our content -- Sam Cook, who writes on outdoors pursuits including paddling, snowmobiling, hunting and bird watching, and Sue Doeden, who chronicles her food-related endeavors complete with photos and recipes.
We're looking for more voices to add to the mix. If you would like to share your expertise, and hear back from readers, our blogging platform is a great place to do it. If you already have a blog on another platform, there are simple, automated ways to move it to Areavoices.com, just send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (651) 459-7600 if you'd like help.
I invite you to join our growing online community. If you have something to say, saying it has never been easier.
Patricia Drey Busse is the managing editor of the South Washington County Bulletin.