The Joplin Globe plans to unveil its new website Tuesday, according to an article in today's edition.
The newspaper plans to continue the comment items which have set the Globe apart from most newspapers in the state. Discussion forums are also planned, according to the article, and it appears an expansion of the Globe's blogs is also on the way.
It would be easy to say this makeover is a result of the creation of the Joplin Daily on Jan. 1, but I recall posting an item quite a while back revealing the Globe's parent company, CNHI, was planning on redoing all of its websites.
The interactive aspects of the Globe's website have been what has set it apart from joplindaily.com. Globe articles sometimes bring dozens of comments. While I have seen spots for comments on Daily articles, I don't know whether those articles have received no comments or whether Daily editors are the only ones who can see them. The guestbook on the Daily's website is almost hidden. The same problems appear to exist with Liberty Group Publishing's new websites for the Neosho Daily News and Carthage Press, though the Press does have an easy-to-find guestbook on which to leave comments.
Hopefully, when the Globe unveils its new design, it will also have its archives up and running, and easy to use for the first time. The Globe's archives have been a mess for a long time.
And as for the Globe's blogs, hopefully an expansion will also bring a dedication to bringing new voices into the mix. No one has asked, but I will offer a few recommendations:
-A capitol blog from staff writer Sadie Gurman would be a welcome addition. The idea has worked for Tony Messenger at the Columbia Daily Tribune and Jo Mannies at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
-How about adding my favorite blogger, Michelle Nickolaisen, a junior at Diamond High School, and turning her loose on teen issues. I guarantee she would generate feedback, positive and negative, quickly.
-How about an Ed Simpson blog? Why should we have to wait until Sunday to disagree with the Globe's editor? Seriously, his column is a major drawing card for the Sunday Globe and it would not water it down to have some thoughts appear from time to time throughout the week.
-I would like to see a blog focusing on the area's rich past. Am I the only one who misses Charles Gibbons' "Angling in the Archives" column from the past?
-A blogger covering the area sports scene would be a welcome addition. Not just MSSU, the Cardinals and the Royals (though I will read anything about the Cardinals that anyone writes). Let's have someone who also looks at area high school and even middle school and junior high sports.
-How about an education blog from someone within the public schools? (And no, I am not interested in doing it.) I enjoy the occasional Sunday columns by Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School headmaster Leonard Kupersmith, and often agree with him, but the vast majority of children in the Globe's reading area attend public schools and that kind of perspective would be welcome.
-Finally, how about blogs from Democrats, Republicans, and independents, designed to foster discussion of the issues facing all of us?
The Globe has an opportunity because of the vast expanse of the internet as opposed to the daily newspaper to bring a large number of new voices into the mix and broaden its reach.
I might add, that the same opportunity exists for the Joplin Daily, which thus far, unfortunately, has squandered its opinion segment on self-serving capitol reports (not all of them, but most) from our elected representatives, press releases from a who's who among the city's upper crust, and non-Joplin columns about family issues. The columns by the elected officials might work well in the mix (if they are writing their own columns or not combining three or four bylines on one column), as long as opposing and supporting points of view are included, as well.
The Globe and the Daily have a golden opportunity to forge ahead of other state news outlets by making their websites marketplaces of ideas. It will work for the readers, and if it is handled right, it will also add to the companies' bottom line.