Dear friends and readers,
Anyone familiar with Bloomington knows August is a time of transition here. Locals, students and migrants alike move in, move out, take time off, go on vacations and brace for the stunning transformation the community undergoes when the IU student body returns.
That's likewise been the case here at The Bloomington Alternative through the years; back when we had a print edition, we took the month off. And these brief recesses have always been times for reflection on the ever-changing challenges of presenting uncomfortable truths to a world in which unrestrained greed and willful ignorance reign supreme. They also have often spawned changes in the way we do things, as is the case this summer.
For a range of reasons, we are refining our online format and altering our publishing routines from this point forward, somewhat. The modifications will be minimal, barely perceptible to most, I'd wager. Our mission, tone and style, of course, will remain the same.
"The only fundamental revision involves our publication schedule."
What won't change is the once-every-other-week e-mail digest of the latest stories, columns and other multimedia offerings we post. Some subscribers will see a slightly altered schedule, as I am combining the Alternative and "Autism and the Indiana Environment Blog" lists into one, since the two are so intricately intertwined.
What will change for regular readers, who make up about a quarter of our online readership, is the look, which will evolve over a short period of time. We are losing the magazine format with three stories featured for two weeks on section fronts and replacing them with a more "traditional" online format where story digests, thumbnail photos and links to full stories appear in the order they're posted.
Everyone will soon find "Printer Friendly" and "Share" options, through which stories can be printed more efficiently and automatically posted on social media like Digg, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
The only fundamental revision involves our publication schedule. After this edition, stories will be posted when they are written and edited rather than all at once every other week. So, to the degree that it matters to the issues we focus on, we will be more timely in our presentation of information.
"Circumstances dictate this evolution, and the change will be minimal."
As an old-line journalist immersed in a post-journalism world, I still want to cling to the past. Given what has replaced the journalism of my day, someone has to. But the circumstances dictate this evolution, and the change will be minimal, especially during phase one -- new publication schedule and minor design changes -- which will happen within a few days. Phase two -- final design changes -- will happen in a matter of weeks.
The primary catalyst for these changes is time management. I still have time to devote to this project, but due to other obligations, I no longer have the luxury of setting aside two full days every other week to do it all at once. This will also be a little less work for me, but that's a minor issue.
Another byproduct of Bloomington's August recess is a dearth of original material because our contributors are on vacation, visiting family, moving in or out, having teeth pulled and otherwise in need of time to prepare for the great transformation. Hence, the brevity of the past couple issues' offerings.
Another consequence is that we won't have deadlines anymore. And some writers just need them to keep motivated. So, I hope our group of contributors will stay the course sans deadlines. I will do my part to keep them sharing their stories and ideas and hope you will too by thanking them for their commitments and work.
Happy August wherever you are, and thanks for reading.
Steven Higgs, editor
The Bloomington Alternative
Steven Higgs can be reached at editor@BloomingtonAlternative.com.