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Tim Blagg

Blagg: The Recorder’s digital side

Putting The Recorder together every day has been getting increasingly complicated — but also increasingly interesting.

That’s because we’re faced with not only publishing a paper product, but a digital one as well.

Every day, on deadline.

It’s added a whole raft of problems to the job — which I’ve been doing since the days of Linotypes.

That’s not an exaggeration. When I started in the business, we were sending our stories out into the composing room, where they were turned into lines of lead type by machines invented back in the 1890s.

My lines of deathless prose (with all due modesty) were then assembled into pages, which were duplicated in “stereotype mats” of tough paper, which were in turn used to cast large lead plates that went on the press.

Over the years, I’ve helped convert that cumbersome process into a totally computer-driven one that not only captures a reporter’s words but slots them into computerized pages that are “written” by lasers on steel plates for our Flexographic press.

But that’s not all we do each day. We also produce two totally separate electronic products — digital newspapers that can be read anywhere in the world that has access to the Internet.

Both can be accessed through our website: recorder.com.

When you open our home page there, you are greeted by an electronic newspaper. It has a “carousel” as they call it, which slowly rotates and displays our leader stories for that day. You can access obituaries, sports stories, features, a calendar, the editorial page — all facets of the daily Recorder. The video link will take you to AP videos of recent news. Clicking on the weather icon will take you to AccuWeather and a compendium of local weatherman Tom Bevacqua’s columns.

Going to Local News and clicking on a Town Page will take you to all the news from your town and schools.

Even better, because of the way we’ve set it up, you can see related stories as well. If you click on one of my columns on the editorial “page” for example, you see a button that allows you to go back and see past columns as well. Or, if you’re following our continued series of stories on the heroin epidemic, opening one story allows you to access all of the others we have run in past months.

Our “This just in ... ” section allows you to follow local Twitter and Facebook feeds, and the Local Photography area displays a host of recent outstanding photographs.

An alternative format

It’s a neat way to get your news, but some readers prefer the traditional newspaper format.

So we have another version of The Recorder — one that many readers prefer.

It’s called the “e-edition” and it can be accessed by going to recorder.com, scrolling down a bit, and then clicking on the tile that says, “Today’s E-Edition.” That will take you to our other site, which displays today’s front page on the left side of your screen.

Click on a story, and it immediately displays on the right side of the screen, in any size type you wish. That’s a great feature for anyone whose eyes aren’t what they used to be. But we offer an even better option for the visually impaired. Click on the “Listen” icon and the story will be read aloud!

With a little coaching, this can be a useful tool for someone who wishes to keep up with the news, but who has trouble with small type.

This “e-edition” site has a month-long archive of papers, and each day’s paper can be searched for a name or phrase.

Obviously, keeping these sites up to date requires more time and effort by our newsroom — so we’re quite busy, even by newspaper standards.

And they cost money, so we’ve made provision for what’s known as a “pay wall.”

Soon after opening a site, visitors are prompted to register, and then to open an account using a credit card.

Happily, our regular subscribers get these services as part of their subscription. They just have to register and provide an account number once. From then on, they should be able to read the digital version any time they wish.

That’s particularly handy for keeping up while on vacation, or for those who spend the winter months somewhere warm.

If you haven’t checked out our online versions, take a moment to do so, and if you are a regular reader, register and bookmark the site on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

We spend a lot of time and effort making sure it will be worth your while.

Blagg has been Editor of The Recorder since 1986. He lives in Greenfield and is a military historian with an interest in local history. He can be reached at: tblagg@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 250.

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