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How the St. Joseph News-Press combats the coronavirus, circulation challenges with multimedia e-Editions

  • 3 min to read
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"It's important to offer an e-Edition," said Steve Booher, director of news and content strategies for the St. Joseph News-Press. "If there ever comes a day when we don't print the newspaper, we can still publish a digital product that engages our traditional print readers."

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Since its inception as a print newspaper more than 175 years ago, the St. Joseph News-Press has expanded to include NewsPressNOW.com, a daily e-Edition, and an in-house broadcast station. With everyone doing their part to shelter in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's become even more challenging for the News-Press to serve the greater St. Joseph, Missouri area with print alone. In times of global crisis, readers are hungry for breaking news—the News-Press has seen page views and user sessions nearly double since the outbreak began to take hold in the U.S.

"Circulation and delivery of a print newspaper is really challenging," Booher said. "With less populated routes, some newspapers are delivered by U.S. Mail which means readers get the news a day or two late."

"Having an e-Edition is a nice option for people. Readers can see a full-sized replica of the newspaper the moment it is published, day or night."

A streamlined digital workflow

According to Booher, creating an e-Edition is simple with BLOX Live e-Editions.

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"It's like putting a paper together, only you don't print it. We save our content into a special folder, and then it just appears in our e-Edition," Booher said. "We can also make corrections or change headlines even after we publish. It allows us a bit of a do-over, unlike a printed paper."

BLOX Live e-Editions is fully integrated with the website and print product. This allows reporters and editors to create, update, and store content in one place, whether they're in the same office or working remotely. Page designers use the same layouts and wireframes for both the print edition and the e-Edition, streamlining the design process.

Because the News-Press team creates content in BLOX CMS first, stories can be simultaneously published to the website, used in a news broadcast, and included in the paper. Depending on the lifecycle of the story, the team may strategically schedule an exclusive for print and the e-Edition before publishing the story online.

"It's very uncomplicated, intuitive, and pretty automatic," Booher said. "The only thing we really do for the e-Edition is make sure the pages are live and accounted for at the end of our shift."

The look of a newspaper, with a multimedia twist

BLOX Live e-Editions combines the traditional look of a newspaper with the multimedia functionality and always up-to-date coverage that modern news consumers expect.

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In the "Text" view, articles are displayed in a continuous feed on the right, known as the "river of news." This allows the story to come to life with videos, photo galleries, social media cards, related content, extra ad units, and much more. BLOX Live e-Editions are also searchable, downloadable, and responsive on mobile devices.

For some, reading the e-Edition in "Page" view—a digital replica of the traditional printed page—feels more like reading the real thing. "I prefer the 'Page' view," Booher said. "I like to appreciate the design and spread of the newspaper, and read the stories I want. But a lot of our readers like the 'Text' view of the e-Edition so they see the river of news."

"I'm an exclusive iPad user; that works really well for me," Booher said. "And I like the ability to select any page at the bottom of the screen and jump directly to it, rather than having to swipe through every page."

Digital replicas that pay

"Along with adding multimedia content like videos or photo galleries, BLOX Live e-Editions gives you additional revenue opportunities," Booher said. "Readers can click on an image of the ad to watch a video or easily visit the advertiser's website."

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The News-Press offers businesses advertising packages that include traditional print ads linked to online advertising and videos. Ads from the e-Edition can be automatically connected to related online content and updated as often as needed.

And according to Booher, the News-Press recognizes that the e-Edition is such an integral part of their future, that they have created a multi-platform marketing campaign solely dedicated to it. "Our efforts include push notifications out of BLOX CMS, email blasts, and 30-second television commercials that run frequently and consistently on all of our broadcast channels."

"The advantage of BLOX Live e-Editions is the potential it gives you. I don't think we've truly dug deep into what we can do," Booher said. "BLOX Live e-Editions positions newspapers well for the future."

Cherry Wolf is a marketing specialist at TownNews.

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