If you visited www.captivasanibel.com this morning, you may have done a quick double-take. Yes, our Web site has undergone substantial change as we strive to serve our readers and advertisers better.
And it's much more than a new look: We've added new features and have made the site much more interactive, giving users the opportunity to comment on our news stories, post a question to our columnists, join discussions led by community bloggers or post to or start a message board topic.
On the features side, you will find greatly expanded story packages - more photographs, fact boxes and, where applicable, story-specific polls. Readers can comment on the stories, read the comments or participate in the polls on subjects that catch their interest.
We invite you to do so as our goal is to foster community discussions on the issues that impact our lives.
Readers also will find more user-friendly, and comprehensive, calendars. We continue to invite submissions for inclusion via our on-line "virtual newsroom" or to the new "submit your calendar item" feature as our goal is unabashedly ambitious: to have the best calendar information on the islands.
We have expanded our on-line lifestyles feature and welcome birth, engagement, wedding and anniversary submissions, and we invite you to use www.captivasanibel.com as a resource to notify family and friends of your family milestones. As always, these will be considered for our print edition as well - without charge, of course.
We believe military news is information to be shared and we have added this as a separate category. Send us news of a spouse, daughter or son serving overseas and we will post it with a photo.
Meanwhile, we have brought "CU" front and center. This photo-sharing feature allows us to share all of our event and news coverage photos with the community - and you to share your photos with family and friends. We invite you to open a "gallery" and share anything from "art" photos of sunsets and wildlife to "action" photos of your child's football or soccer game, to for-the-memory-book photos of holiday or family gatherings.
Our goal is do much more than duplicate our print edition on line. Our goal is to become an on-line gathering place for Sanibel and Captiva residents, a place where you can go to get the news, share your comments and input on the stories and opinions of the day, obtain good information from local experts or conversation leaders, or just share a picture or a personal milestone.
To us, that's community journalism in today's Sanibel and Captiva islands.
We invite you to participate.
If you wish to post a comment or a CU gallery, it's as simple as registering - and it's free.
If you wish to become a blogger, we invite you to call our newsroom and ask for one of our editors, Jeff Lysiak. You'll be asked to propose a topic and submit a sample or two. We're looking for people who can start - and lead - discussions on such things as parenting, or single parenting; or fishing, kayaking or any other hobby or sport. It does take a time commitment and we are not offering compensation as our bloggers will not be employees or freelancers, but community contributors whose comments and contributions do not necessarily reflect the views of our paper.
We also invite readers to visit our expanded Web site and register to become part of the on-line discussion.
We would ask readers who choose to take part to take a moment to read our service agreement carefully, which outlines the parameters we would like to see be applied to these community discussions.
It is not our intent to host free-for-all "forums" for a handful of users to throw brickbats at each other but to offer an opportunity for shared comment that invites participation without fear of verbal retribution that stoops to personal attack.
What do we ask? In part, that you exercise your best judgment and do not:
Restrict or inhibit any other user(s) from using and enjoying the service.
Post any material that contains vulgar, profane, abusive, hateful or racist language or expressions, text, photographs or illustrations in poor taste, or attacks of a personal, racial or religious nature.
Post any material that is threatening, false, defamatory, misleading, fraudulent, unfair, and inaccurate, contains gross exaggeration or unsubstantiated claims, violates the privacy rights of any party, is unreasonably harmful or offensive to any individual, community, association, business or group.
We think these are reasonable parameters and we welcome and urge self-policing of the public comment portion of the site by its users.
While we have no legal obligation to do so, we fully reserve the right to remove comments and to ban those who abuse the system by violating the terms of service.
Our intent is not to stifle discussion but to encourage it. Sites fraught with verbal bullying of participants who may not share the same views may interest some readers but will discourage most from actively taking part.
And we very much want you to take part.
Our news team does not write stories in a vacuum and we certainly invite lively discourse on our editorial positions. We're excited that our expanded Web site not only gives you the ability to communicate with us but to share your views with other readers.
Visit www.captivasanibel.com and tell us what you think - this column will be one of the first open to comment. I welcome the input.
- Jack Glarrow, Publisher, Breeze Newspapers