Jeff Pieters: Post Bulletin offers new site to see – Rochester Minnesota news, weather, sports

Wednesday has been a pretty hectic day for us here at Post Bulletin.

We’ve covered car crashes in the morning fog, covered an unprecedented December thunderstorm in the dark of the night, and in the meantime we’ve relaunched our website, postbulletin.com, powered by a new engine.

Or, at least, we tried to do it. Our 9 a.m. launch had some hiccups when the computer servers feeding our site from the west coast experienced a service outage. We weren’t fully online until lunchtime. Those morning hours were of course uncomfortable knowing that readers were trying to visit our site and stumbled upon a blank screen instead.

Hopefully, now that our issues are behind us and launched, you will find that our new site is an improvement over the old one. To me, it’s more visually interesting and more neatly arranged. I would like to point out a few other things about this.

  • It is easier to access the sections you want. Simply click on the “Sections” button in the upper left corner of the page and a list of sections will appear in the left margin of your screen. We have reduced the number of sections to make it easier for you to find categories of interest. For example, we’ve integrated crime and justice stories into Local News and our 507 magazine into Entertainment.
  • The sharper appearance that I have described has a direct benefit to you in several areas: Generally speaking, a simpler site loads faster, and ours is more designed to avoid that annoying rollover that happened when the ad reached the page. (If you’re like me, you’ll often find yourself clicking the wrong link because of this bump.) The simpler layout looks better on smartphones, too. Fun fact: over half of our online readers visit our site on a mobile device.
  • The content management system – or what’s called CMS, the software our journalists use to write their stories and upload their photos – has also changed. The great thing about this CMS, called BrightSpot, is that it’s easier to use and gives us more flexibility to customize the way our stories are presented to you. The software vendor also offers better customer support than we had before. This is the same CMS used by the LA Times, Politico, and several other national media outlets.

I could tell you more about this new site, but these are the biggest improvements. And there are certainly details that we are still working out. Please feel free to send me a note with your reaction to this change.

Want to give advice to a publisher?

The most important thing we have in the Post Bulletin is not our website. It’s not the printing press, a computer, a camera, a journalist’s notebook or pen, or even the padded chair that keeps this editor’s butt off the floor.

No, the most important thing we have are our readers. Not only is your interest in our work the foundation of everything we have and do, but your ideas can help us learn and discover better ways to meet your needs.

That’s why, in 2022, we’ll be reinstating a program that we’ve had from time to time over the years: a Readers Advisory Board.

I would like a group of, say, six to ten volunteers who are willing to meet with me and, on occasion, other members of my team one night a month for 12 months. We’ll talk about ourselves – our successes and failures, the challenges of being a journalist in the 21st century, and ideas we’d like to share with you for your comments. And we’ll talk about you – what you like and dislike about the journal, what you would like us to add or remove, and your unmet information needs that we could potentially serve.

I would like to attract as large a sample as possible of our readership. Let’s have a mix of men and women; young and, uh, well seasoned; and be as racially diverse as possible. I hope for a variety of income, blue collar and white collar, and of course representation across the political spectrum.

The only essential qualities for this group are that you are interested in the Bulletin de la Poste and local news, and that you can talk to someone whose point of view may be different from yours without losing their mind. Oh yes – and you must live in Southeast Minnesota, or at least have some connection to that area, as we will meet in person, as public health conditions permit.

You can tell me about your own interest or you can name a friend. I am reached at 507-285-7748 or by email at [email protected]

Jeff Pieters is editor of the Post Bulletin. He can be reached by phone, 507-285-7748, or by email,

[email protected]

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