From the editor: Sun will rise on new ‘Bay to Bay News’ website

Posted

DOVER — The sun will rise Tuesday, Feb. 16, and begin a brand-new day for us.

Welcome to our new digital world. You will read the first front page of the Delaware State News’ bold, new, modern website, BaytoBayNews.com. We hope you like it.

It builds on what we accomplished with DelawareStateNews.net, taking our Downstate-focused content and expanding it across most of Delmarva. The current link will redirect readers to the new website.

Along with the Delaware State News editorial team, our partner newspapers in Salisbury, Cambridge and Crisfield in Maryland will contribute to the extraordinary presentation of news. The site will offer a range of content, from hyperlocal news to issues that affect most everyone who lives between the Chesapeake and Delaware bays.

Our Delmarva journalists will kick off in-depth reporting Tuesday with a package on evictions — one of the delayed impacts of the pandemic-related economic crisis.

***

For the first time, we will have a web editor prioritizing what readers will find. Brooke Schultz, who has been doing an excellent job reporting on schools and more in the past year, has been working behind the scenes in recent weeks getting ready for the launch.

There was a simplicity and efficiency to the structure of DelawareStateNews.net that coincided too often with what we were finishing on deadlines for our print newspapers. But it lacked the modern touch a news website needs.

The new site will be much more dynamic than what we have had. And, with the sections broken down by counties in our coverage area, readers should easily find the news they most want.

We will be reacting more quickly to breaking news — updating developments, linking related content and creating a habit-forming reader experience. And, important to our mission, we want to offer opportunities for our communities to discuss and better understand issues.

***

All this is driven by what readers want. To use a buzz phrase in our industry, we know we must meet readers where they are.

Today’s readers consume news in different ways. While it has always been about the content itself, we have had to confront the necessity of creating a product experience that readers enjoy.

We have our loyal “page turners,” those who prefer the print edition, as well as those who do the same with our digital replica. The newspaper is aggregated and packaged in a way that makes it comfortable and reliable. The digital world, on the other hand, must be lively and always engaging. Today’s readers are constantly checking their smartphones, addicted by the scroll of updates on news apps and social media.

Statistics revealed that 68% of all sessions to DelawareStateNews.net in 2020 were on mobile devices. For the year prior, it was 62%.

When readers learn about something big, they click immediately on trusted, local news sources. That’s why DelawareStateNews.net was almost overpowered by demand when the governor shut down the state in March.

Many want to comment immediately, too. Trolls aside, we appreciate readers sharing ideas and opinions that help move debates forward, looking for ways to find common ground and compromise.

***

When you open BaytoBayNews.com, one of the first things you may notice is our familiar logo of the sun rising in the encircled cupola of Legislative Hall.

That rising-sun icon is also now associated with our sister publications. There is a variation for each one — the Salisbury Independent has a seagull flying across the sun, the Crisfield-Somerset County Times a crab, and the Dorchester Banner a skipjack.

By design, the colorful sunrise icons distinguish our network of news outlets.

“Wherever you see our sunrise logo, whether in Delaware, or on the Lower or Mid-Shore of Maryland, please know it represents a little company with big ideas and be assured that it means credible, nonpartisan, honest reporting from editors, reporters and an experienced network of correspondents who know Delmarva better than anyone else,” our publisher, Darel La Prade, wrote after its Delaware State News debut in August.

The sunrise in the flag of the State News dates to the 1980s.

It was a clever work of line art. The sun was represented by the circle around the cupola of Legislative Hall in Dover.

Black lines of various weights created the rising sun. It represented a big change for the newspaper — morning, rather than afternoon, deliveries.

On April 18, 1983, the first morning edition included an editorial celebrating the change: “Welcome to our morning world. This is the first issue of the State News as a morning newspaper. We hope you like it.”

The spirit of the changes of 1983 very much parallel what we are doing now with BaytoBayNews.com.

In 1983, readers here and across the nation made it clear that they wanted to read the news before going to their 9-to-5 jobs. Advertisers — especially the big department stores like Boscov’s at the then-new Dover Mall — wanted to reach customers early each day.

The editorial celebrated opportunity and change, noting that the greater Dover area had grown up and so had the Delaware State News.

“It has given Downstate Delaware and nearby counties of Maryland an information, communication and news vehicle tailored to them — a newspaper published by residents with an understanding that no outsider organization can match,” the editorial said.

The same feels true today with BaytoBayNews.com. We feel like we have more to offer by uniting our efforts to report on the challenges and successes of businesses, schools, infrastructure and more in communities that are woven together by U.S. routes 13 and 50 and by the land between the bays.

The current editors of our publications have deep Delmarva roots, and we all would readily acknowledge we have stayed because we have sand in our shoes and because we love it here.

We hope that shines through in BaytoBayNews.com.

Andrew West is executive editor of the Delaware State News.