Congratulations to the Otago Daily Times in doing what more or less no other main centre newspaper has done (outside of Auckland), and created their own new web site.
This is a big deal. Otago is a huge geographical area, and the ODT services a wide range of communities, from the University of North Dunedin, the greater Dunedin area, the Coastal regions, the Taieri, Central Otago and the Lakes regions. Not an easy thing to do physically, yet they’ve been doing it for over a hundred years now. But in this digital age, ironically it’s possibly even harder to do. The competition is huge, with the two largest online news media sites practically dominating the online news scene.
This job has been made even harder over the last couple of years with the biggest and best newspapers creating beautiful and technically challenging web sites. The Guardian and New York Times have both undergone massive redesigns, lifting the bar even harder for new comers. As although they look fantastic, work extremely well, they are still just fundamentally a web site, and any good developer from Dunedin to New York should be able to do the same.
At the Society of News Paper Designers conference in Boston last Sept, the lead Designer of the Guardian, Mark Bolton, gave a presentation on the process and many many tribulations which created the new Guardian’s web site. It is no small feat, and the ODT has been in development for many many months now. The tasks involved are not only of design but of content and then most importantly how to foster a sense of community and readership. I would imagine that with the features they have packed into the new site the later will come and make it one of it’s strongest assets. Because, although primarily a newspaper web site, this is a site that tells the stories about Dunedin and the whole of Otago, which in the past has been a very rare thing.
It’s now up to the people of the area to get in behind this site and make the most of it.
Well done to the Otago Daily Times to bringing the news and stories about our region to the web and the world.