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Elizabeth Cook: Look for Spirit of Rowan

Change is the only constant, and nowhere is that truer than at a newspaper, where we make a new product every day. It’s time to bring Post readers up to date on a few things.

First, Spirit of Rowan. You may have seen ads in the paper promoting this special edition, which will come out in about a month. This will be an annual publication highlighting some of the people and activities that typify the rich and varied spirit of this area.

When we sat down and brainstormed, we came up with a long list of good things happening in this community and realized they could easily fill a large book. I won’t list all those ideas here, but I can tell you that four big themes developed: living, learning, working and helping.

We’re not writing a book for the first edition of Spirit of Rowan, but we are putting together stories and photos that cover a lot of important subjects. Consider Spirit of Rowan 2015 a sampling of some of the things this community does best.

Now let’s talk about the Post’s website. A couple of months ago, the look of www.SalisburyPost.com changed dramatically, and it continues to evolve. One of my favorite features is the style of the new drop-down menus, which give you a glance at what’s new under the headings of News, Sports, Lifestyles and Opinion.

The site also includes what we call a “river of news” in a couple of spots. On the home page, the Newsfeed on the left side of your screen, below the top stories, displays the latest headlines. And once you’ve clicked on a headline and are reading a story, you’ll see headlines from other stories across the top of the screen, too. Once you’ve finished reading the story, you can click on one of those headlines to read another story without going back to the homepage, if you want.

The new responsive design of the site makes it easy to read on your computer, tablet or smartphone; the type and photos adjust to the size of your screen.

That, in turn, made the Salisbury Post app some people were using obsolete. It’s no longer necessary to have a specific application to get a reader-friendly version of the Post on your phone or tablet. Just go to the www.SalisburyPost.com on your device and the mobile view will pop up. You can save the Post’s icon to your screen to access it directly.

One of the pluses of this new arrangement is that you can see and post comments from your smartphone. The old app did not display comments, which meant it was leaving out an often lively part of our site.

Some readers of the print paper have no interest in the web and mobile versions of the Post, and that’s fine. But I find myself often reminding people that the newspaper is not just the newspaper.

Depending on where they are, lots of people use all three versions of the Salisbury Post — the paper at home; the website at work and the mobile view while out and about.

Digital readership is growing at papers across the country. The National Newspaper Association says 8 in 10 U.S. adults who were online in October 2014 engaged with newspaper digital content. That’s 80 percent.

The first time a consultant told us that people would soon be reading news on their phones — I guess that was about five years ago — the notion sounded futuristic and hard to believe.

Yet here we are. The NAA study found those who use only smartphones or tablets for newspaper digital content grew 85 percent from October 2013 to October 2014. Young women drove much of that growth.

On another subject, we’ve had several readers ask lately what happened to USA Weekend.

The Sunday supplement, carried by the Post for nearly 30 years, ceased publication at the end of 2014. That was the decision of its owners at Gannett, not of the Post’s.

The Dec. 28 edition of the magazine included a farewell message. We were sorry to see USA Weekend go.

Now we’re focussed on what’s coming up: Spirit of Rowan and much more. To borrow from Bob Dylan, the times, they are a-changin’. Our aim is to change with them while still providing  the information our readers have come to trust and rely upon.

Thank you for reading the Salisbury Post — however and wherever you choose to read it.

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.

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