When I started at the Blade in 2002, the paper had a rudimentary website complete with an image of flash-animated ruby red slippers to click when you wanted to return to the homepage.
Over the years, the site has evolved and grown and this Friday we will unveil the latest chapter in the Blade’s evolution from a single-page, black and white mimeographed newsletter.
In addition to a new logo and complete print redesign (from our talented creative director, Jim Neal), there’s a revamped website designed to optimize content sharing via social media. In addition, we’re launching new mobile apps for the iPhone and Droid platforms so your old “newspaper of record” is now your “app of record” for LGBT-related news.
To help manage all the new tools, we’ve hired Phil Reese, a digital advocate, writer and podcast host, as our social media director. Back in 2002, a Blade “social media director” would have been responsible for planning office happy hours, but in today’s media landscape it’s a critical new role and we’re excited to welcome Phil to D.C.
Special thanks to Bruce Namerow and his creative team at Interactive Strategies for their work on the new site and to Judy Reagan, founder and president of Reagan Data, for developing the apps. And thanks to other area media professionals who have helped in this process, including Colleen Dermody of Out to Market and Sabine Konhaeuser, principal of No-R-Productions.
It’s a long way from those ruby red slippers and a recognition that today many readers expect their news to be pushed to them, whether via e-mail (be sure to subscribe to the Blade e-Blast), Facebook, Twitter, RSS or mobile app.
The only constant in life — and in the news business — is change. During the years I spent working for the Baltimore Sun, it became apparent that mainstream metropolitan dailies were not built for change. Union protections meant employees could inhabit the same job for 40 years without fear of change. Lumbering bureaucracies meant employees from different departments didn’t interact or communicate. Massive investments in infrastructure (the Sun’s main building occupied a full city block) tied companies to physical locations for decades and brought debt and sky-high maintenance costs. Monopolistic control of local markets brought greed and bred laziness among sales staff.
That was then. Since the late 1990s we’ve learned that news indeed remains a robust business, but what’s needed to thrive is an innovative spirit, the ability to welcome change and willingness to use technology to improve speed and drive down costs. Today the Blade has never had more readers and there’s never been more LGBT-related news to cover. Enjoy the changes and, as always, send us your feedback.