Ambitious year ahead for Free Press


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I love the way readers describe the Free Press as "their" paper.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 31/12/2014 (3009 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I love the way readers describe the Free Press as “their” paper.

That sense of ownership suggests a connection to our product in a way that, frankly, is humbling.

What our newsroom produces on deadline by what we only half-jokingly refer to as a daily miracle, and what then rolls off the presses after midnight more than a 100,000 strong, somehow becomes unique in the hands of the reader.

“I love what you did to my paper,” is usually how the compliment begins.

“What the hell have you done to my paper?” is frequently the tone of the complaints that come my way.

And that personal connection to the Free Press we deliver daily also means everyone has his or her own way of consuming it.

I’ve learned readers tuck away certain sections to read on the bus or later in the day on the couch. I’ve had long discussions about what gets read at the breakfast table and then set aside for the easy chair. I’ve had readers ask me to reconfigure the layout of pages to make it easier for them to cut out articles to put on their fridge or mail to family and friends. I even had one woman go into great detail on the mechanics of how she read the Books section in bed and how a redesign had mucked up that treasured routine.

While I’m loath to muck up our readers’ routines, there are going to be some big changes coming to the Free Press in 2015 that will build on the lessons I’ve gleaned from what you want and need.

What we are building for our online readership is the kind of experience that will transfer that individual sense of ownership from our print product to what we deliver on desktops, smartphones and tablets. In other words, we are reimagining what a news website should be with an eye to enabling you to tailor what you read and how you read it.

For example, if you are a fan of the Winnipeg Jets, provincial politics, the local arts scene and Brad Oswald’s TV picks, then the you point and click to will reflect those reading tendencies. Similarly, if you are big into crime stories, the Blue Bombers, pop culture and relationship advice from Miss Lonelyhearts, that’s what will greet you on your screen.

Better still, we’ll send you recommendations based on what you’ve read in the past. We will allow you to set aside articles to read later, say for that bus ride or evening on the couch. And if you want to broaden your horizons by taking cues from what others are reading, we will give you those insights as well.

It’s fair to say what we are getting ready to unveil is among the most ambitious projects in our 142-year history. We honestly believe it will be groundbreaking because it will put you, the reader, at the centre of what we deliver from our website.

As we count down to the launch of this new era for the Free Press, I’ll provide updates so you can get a sense of how we aim to serve you better, and so we can get the feedback an undertaking such as this needs to succeed.

My resolution for 2015 is to have our online readership start to talk about their relationship to the Free Press the same way our print readers talk about their newspaper.

We’ve always taken pride in delivering the news that matters to you. By putting you at the centre of in 2015, we want to deliver a new product you will be proud to call your own.

Happy New Year.

Paul Samyn is the Free Press editor. @paulsamyn

Paul Samyn

Paul Samyn

Paul Samyn has been part of the Free Press newsroom for more than a quarter century, working his way up after starting as a rookie reporter in 1988.

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