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Our world has gone digital and newspapers must, too

Let’s face it. Our world is now connected, plugged in and logged on in more ways than ever before. And we won’t ever be going back.

Less than 25 years after the World Wide Web became widespread commercially, the internet has become an absolutely integral part of our electronic-dependent lives.

Interestingly, a significant segment of people are still struggling to adapt. Businesses are no different.

The jargon alone can be intimidating for some people.

Everywhere you go, it is “wi-fi” this, “hotspot” that. “Bluetooth” has nothing to do with dental hygiene and everything to do with wireless linking of electronic devices.

Ping. FTP. Viral. Googled. Tagged. Vlogged. The Cloud.

The list goes on and on.

It may be the understatement of the century but, like it or not, computers — and the internet — are here to stay.

Computers, which we now hold in the palm of hand in cell phones, are so ingrained in our culture and our behavior that if you take them away, you will see panic ensue.

Most businesses rely on computers more than ever and come to a screeching halt when something goes wrong.

Youth are often lost and bored without them.

A recent study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 89 percent of adults use the internet regularly. More than 97 percent of adults between 18 and 49 go online.

With computer and phone costs dropping almost daily and facilities such as libraries, senior centers, colleges and coffee shops offering free online access, the economic barrier that once existed is almost gone entirely.

What does all this mean? We must all continue embrace our digital world or get left behind.

Newspapers are no different — and may have even more at stake than most other businesses.

For years, newspapers have had an online presence, but often as more of an afterthought than anything else.

The biggest problem is that most newspapers — and The Interior Journal is no different — have continued to take a paper-product mentality and force it into an electronic medium.

The reality is that printed newspapers and their digital counterparts are different and have to be treated as such. Both are valuable and can complement one another.

Some segment of readers will always appreciate holding a physical copy in their hands, smelling the ink and knowing its permanence. Others want access to their news from anywhere and in a host of formats.

Most newspaper websites that are truly successful are the ones that are innovative, going beyond what a printed product can offer.

We have certainly taken positive steps in that direction in recent years with video, photo galleries, downloadable files and more, but we have only scratched the surface.

Readers can expect more local content, more reader-friendly options and more interactivity in the weeks and months to come.

We want to continue to offer our readers the best source of the news they need, serving Lincoln County better than anyone.

The possibilities are limitless and all good newspapers — and other businesses as well — have to plug in and commit to digital just as much as print.

Michael Caldwell is interim publisher of The Interior Journal. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at mike.caldwell@theinteriorjournal.com.