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Extra, Extra! Read all about it!

Bay Weekly’s new and improved online edition gives you a voice

I’m writing these words on a screen, and it’s more likely than ever that’s where you’ll be reading them.

Not that newspaper readers have abandoned print pages in their run to e-journalism. Millions are still print readers: 385 million people buy a newspaper each week, meaning we print-makers have, conservatively, one billion weekly readers.

Count me among them.

It’s no doubt conditioning, but I love reading a newspaper. Having the known world delivered each day to me in five or six sections comforts me with the illusion I can circumnavigate my world in a single day. Of course I don’t often finish, and then I have to carry around unread sections, sometimes whole papers, like old guilt. Friends have separate baskets for unread and read (and destined for recycling) newspaper.

If I were an online reader, I’d be driven crazy with the certainty that I’d never catch up. Infinity has given me nightmares from childhood, and infinity is close to what the Internet gives us.

One of the challenges of this new age of journalism has been designing online editions so that good-looking screens train online readers to become skilled and eager navigators.

Over the spring and summer of 2010, Bay Weekly has been all over that challenge. Last week, Bay Weekly went online with its new look. The background, as you’ll see at www.bayweekly.com, is all water, which explains why I’m using all these navigational metaphors.

“Looks like you were designed in 1995,” web developer Matthew Grasmick said when he inspected the jobsite.

“Wrong,” I said. “It was 1998.”

That’s when brainkid Brianne Warner, then riding the edge of the wave at University of Maryland, designed our first website. She did a great job, but even I have to admit that the times, they are a’changing.

So Bay Weekly general manager Alex Knoll and Grasmick put their heads together.

“Matt had the intuitiveness, skill and patience to get us what we wanted,” said Knoll. And that, he added, “wasn’t easy, as Matt discovered time and time again.

“This is a Golden Age of journalism,” Knoll explained, “ and we wanted to be part of it with a modern website, which is like having a newsboy on the corner yelling Extra, Extra! Read all about it!”

An online paper changes faster than its print counterpart. Soon, we’ll be updating calendar online, for example. Already, you’re contributing to the newness of news.

As part of making our new online edition more user friendly, Knoll wanted it more interactive.

Here are some of the ways Grasmick brought you in.

Podcasts let you subscribe to Bay Weekly feeds specialized to your interests. For example, Grasmick told me, “8 Days a Week — or any other feature — could be sent automatically to your cell phone, iPod or email application.”

Share buttons pair with every article. As Grasmick explains, “You can click on the button and share any article with your connections online by email or on a social media site like Facebook or Twitter.”

“The medium has changed,” Knoll says, “but not the message.”

So whether you’re reading these words online or in print, you’ll get the same editor, the same stories, the same features — and the same values. Plus more value.

Login/Register: The new online edition takes us nearer than ever before to the Bay Weekly goal of creating a forum, where people meet and exchange ideas, goods and services.

Enter the forum by clicking on the Login/Register link in the upper right-hand corner. Sign in with your username, email account, password and code. Now you’re in.

Your comments become exchanges, spurring conversations and shaping content. You’re in the dialogue and others can jump in, starting conversations and becoming more involved shaping Bay Weekly.

While you’re reading Bay Weekly online, you can also post events, make pitches and share story ideas. When you yell, Extra, the whole Bay Weekly online community will read all about it.