Just a few years ago, I was speaking to a media law class at Washington & Lee University in Virginia, and I'll never forget the comment I made that seemed to most capture their attention.

"When I took journalism classes in college, we used a typewriter," I said.

A typewriter?

What's that?

"Oh, you mean an old keyboard," some wise guy innocently commented.

My, my, how times have changed.

During high school, a buddy and I took typing class for one reason: We knew we would meet girls. Little did I know then that learning typing skills would be critical to my career.

Nowadays, it's not even called typing anymore. It's keyboarding.

Furthermore, schools are beginning to issue laptop computers to students much the same as they do books.

I was lucky to have a spare jumbo pencil.

***

It is an exciting time in the journalism business when a newspaper can claim growth in print and with its online product in the Internet world.

Fortunately, The Daily Times can claim both at the moment, and that is a good thing for you the reader.

The online edition of the newspaper that you read on the computer already is well established in most markets as the most likely dominant media tool of the future. While that likely holds true for the Farmington area too, we actually are among the few newspapers in America that continues to grow in print numbers as well. Not everyone in the Four Corners has a computer, and among those who do, many still prefer to read the news off of a newspaper they more easily can tuck under their arms.


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What does this mean for you?

The higher our circulation, the more likely advertisers are willing to advertise to reach the market's consumer base.

The more that happens, and the more successful the local retailers and other businesses that advertise become, the more likely other companies will want to come here and be a part of the action. And, the healthier our economy becomes.

It is true that the newspaper industry as a whole is suffering hard times as many of them, especially the larger metro papers, for too long forgot the importance of local news and redirected their attention while readers did the same.

Many of the most successful newspapers today are those in markets like ours, where focusing on local news is of primary concern. If we had more reporters, you'd still see more local coverage.

Our print product, meanwhile, continues to provide better presentation by giving you traditional newspaper layout and everything in your hands available to read without electricity, Internet service or a computer required. It also contains a wealth of Associated Press and other syndicated material from around the world.

Our online edition is loaded with new features meant to appeal to the Internet user who prefers to use the computer or lives outside our circulation area and cannot receive the print edition.

Both are growing, as our print edition is roughly 3-4 percent higher in circulation than a year ago.

Meanwhile, the total number of unique visitors to our Web site during February thus far, or those whose computer signature is counted only once, is more than 12,000 higher than a year ago, with the month not ended yet. More than 63,000 visitors have clicked onto our online edition this month, from all over the world.

***

The best way to use us is to use both, print and online, which is how I like to read a newspaper.

I get my updates and at-a-glance fix from online, but I still enjoy holding the entire newspaper in my hands and flipping pages to find my interests. The print product, to me, is the more complete package and can go with me and be read anywhere or anytime I choose.

If I'm at my computer, different story. I click and run, or, I do in-depth research that I can't do if I'm hunting old stories or material related to the topic I need.

If you are an online user, here are a few of the recent enhancements we've developed to make our online product more helpful:

  • A updated "Contact Us" list on how you can contact anyone at the newspaper. We are adding bios to most of the names so that you also can click on the name and read about our background and personal interests.

  • Letters to the Editor and story comments can be done online, making it much easier for those who don't want to use a stamp or visit a mailbox to send their letter.

  • All of our local election stories are kept on file in a special link called "Elections '08," which allows you to go back and read old stories before you make your decisions at the polls.

  • Similar links are available that contain photos, stories and special projects that were published in the past, such as the series we provided from Boston when the first Navajo baseball player in the majors joined the Red Sox.

  • An interactive community calendar includes a roundup of each day's events.

  • Movie previews and reviews can be watched, as well as news video reports and various other offerings in our multimedia section.

  • You can buy photos from our photo gallery and archives.

  • A weekly interaction poll is there to allow you to express your opinion on the issue of the week.

  • Perhaps the best features are the tools available for getting breaking news. You can sign up to have breaking news e-mailed to you, or check our site during the day for updates on major developing stories.

    These are but a few of the online tools available, and we hope to make improvements an ongoing task, adding new features almost every week.

    Meanwhile, we also are dedicated every day to improving the print edition by selecting the most interesting stories and photos we can provide, and, most importantly, by keeping the focus on local news as much as possible. Still, it remains the wide variety offered that is one of the key attractions to reading us in print, and print remains our core product.

    We very much realize there are other ways we can improve, and we are working hard to do so. Storytelling, no matter what medium is used to deliver it, still is rooted in the basics of getting it right and telling it well.

    Today, that often involves a one-two punch of getting it to you.

    We've come a long way since the typewriter.

    Troy Turner is the editor of The Daily Times. He can be contacted at P.O. Box 450, Farmington, N.M., 87491; or at tturner@daily-times.com.