It’s a blog-gone shame

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

We first told you about The Oldham Era’s news blog in the Nov. 13 edition, and since then, I’ve appreciated the community’s response. 

The site has many functions we don’t currently offer at OldhamEra.com, a Web site created by our parent company, Landmark Community Newspapers Inc., based in Shelbyville. 

OldhamEra.com – like Web sites for more than 50 other LCNI newspapers – has been in transition for more than 18 months, and we share your frustration with the site. You’ve told us the site is tough to access, and in our experience, it is tough to navigate, tough to update and tough for our readers to use as a communication tool.  

During the past 18 months, our staff members have brainstormed with representatives from our corporate office and employees of other LCNI papers about how to best serve our customers.

But OldhamEra.com isn’t a reflection of that creativity. It is my hope that those ideas will someday become a reality for OldhamEra.com.  

I’m proud to work for a company that values innovative ideas, and I created the news blog as another outlet to communicate with readers. 

We uploaded identical content to OldhamEra.com and the news blog as a test of readers’ interest, and reader interaction on those sites shows me where that interest lies. 

During the month of November, three readers posted their opinions in the reader comments section of OldhamEra.com. In just three weeks, The Oldham Era’s news blog brought in 22 reader comments and increased traffic by leaps and bounds every day. 

In fact, statistics from OldhamEra.com show the news blog as a great promotional tool for our print edition and our Web site, as the blog made the top 10 of referral sites for OldhamEra.com during its three-week span.

The news blog is my short-term attempt at creating an online community for our readers, with the hope that OldhamEra.com would soon be accessible and user-friendly for everyone in the future. At that time, we planned to marry the news blog to OldhamEra.com.

For better or for worse, I received a direct order from LCNI to shut down the news blog Dec. 3 hours after we published a newspaper promoting the blog and several of its new features. I apologize to readers who logged on to view the Mystery Photo of the Day or read stories we promoted in last week’s paper. 

It wasn’t my decision nor my action to shut down the blog, and it is a decision I continue to disagree with. 

But for richer or for poorer, The Oldham Era is a business, LCNI is a media company, and I am a journalist still trying to make a living in a profession that is changing every day.

For now, LCNI wants our staff to focus on OldhamEra.com, and I need your feedback about how to make it better. Send me addresses for sites you enjoy visiting and tell me what you’d like to see at OldhamEra.com.  

I hope you’ll stick with us. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the writer.