Getting ready for electronic delivery

It is Tuesday afternoon and I have now spent almost three full days testing out software to deliver complete copies of the Fort Frances Times electronically.
It always has been an idea in the back of the minds of newspaper publishers that if they could deliver their complete newspaper copies with all the advertising in them, then they could remove the cost of postal service.
Electronic delivery means almost instant delivery. And for some people, it may be possible in the future that they will be able to access their newspaper at home from their computer before the press even has stopped running.
In fact, my eldest son who is now in Namibia could be reading his paper shortly after supper at his home in Windhoek.
Deliveries would be made almost instantaneously and readers could receive their papers wherever they had e-mail access.
There will be a subscription fee for the complete paper similar to the one now charged for home delivery. However, wherever you live in the world, you will be able to receive the paper the same day it is printed.
Those who subscribe to the new service will get the full version of the newspaper, including all the advertising. Currently, only a portion of the Times and Daily Bulletin is posted to the web.
We also look to offer this service with the Rainy River Record.
The first newspapers to use such a delivery system were the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times for their world editions that could be picked up anywhere around the globe.
In Canada, the Alberta Weekly Newspapers Association has been pioneering its own system for more than two years. That is the system we here at the Times are experimenting with.
Alas, we seem to be having problems with the delivery of the information into the system. The uploading of the files is only sporadically successful. And so the technicians who are helping us launch this new service, who previously have launched hundreds of sites across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, are doing their utmost to bring us online.
Since the Times converted to paperless publishing in 1998, we have accumulated more than 20,000 pages of digital archive material we also would like to put up for research purposes.
That will be a major undertaking to properly code all those files that have been built up over the last seven years.
This new service will enable subscribers to search through the data bases for all sorts of information. It may be to look for a deceased relative, or the price of a new car or cottage in 1999.
It also will assist us to serve customers in the major centres of Canada who purchase advertising for major corporations, who will have instant proof that their ads ran correctly without having to wait for printed copies to arrive on their desks via Canada Post.
As I write this column, I am feeling a little frustrated with this new undertaking. The AWSOM archive system, as it is called, seems everything but awesome.
Yet I know that probably by the end of the week, we will have more than two months of issues up and catalogued. And in early September, we will be able to sell subscriptions to this new service.
That’s the plan. Now it is back to the AWSOM headache.

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