So … 2020. That sure was something, wasn’t it?
It’s quite nice to be leaving that wretched year in the rear-view mirror. While things are looking bleak right now due to the COVID spike, the vaccine news gives us all a reason to be optimistic about 2021.
In the spirit of turning the page to a whole new—and hopefully better—chapter, we’ve made some changes here at the Independent.
First: You may have noticed that we’ve changed our logo. After eight years and 89 print editions, we decided it was time to freshen things up a bit. I sincerely thank Beth Allen, our insanely talented designer—who is, alas, leaving us (at least on a regular, monthly basis)—for all her work in developing the fabulous new logo.
Second: On Dec. 16, we launched an entirely new website—and I couldn’t be more excited about it.
When I—with no small amount of help from my then-partner (now husband) Garrett—launched CVIndependent.com back in late 2012, I did so on a tight (read: nearly non-existent) budget. After doing some research, we decided to build the site on an open-source web platform called Joomla, using a news template built by a company called JoomlArt. Despite our meager resources, we built a strong, user-friendly and attractive news website—a site of which I was quite proud.
Of course, all things age, including websites. The lack of flexibility in the template we used for CVIndependent.com became more and more of an issue as we started adding features (events, our gift-certificate market, newsletter signups, etc.)—especially on the mobile/tablet side. As the years passed, the website started looking stale on desktop computers—and became a jumbled mess on smartphones.
I started looking for a new website solution over the summer … and I am so, so happy I discovered Newspack.
Newspack is a joint project of WordPress.com and the Google News Initiative. As Newspack’s website explains: “Newspack is an all-in-one publishing platform that incorporates industry best practices to help small and medium-sized news organizations produce great journalism, drive audience, and generate revenue.”
The biggest challenge for newspapers when it comes to changing websites involves migration: We have thousands upon thousands of articles, photos, embeds, etc. in our archives, and switching them from one platform to the next doesn’t always go well … if it goes at all. I’ve been in the journalism biz for almost 2 1/2 decades now—hence all the gray in my beard—and I’ve seen some horrid, costly debacles when it comes to newspaper-website changes. So, I will admit I was rather concerned about moving to CVIndependent.com 2.0.
Well … my worries were all for naught: The Newspack folks were amazing. They took time to train me on the new system, answer my dumb questions and walk me through various options. They got the site migrated and launched on schedule, to my specifications—and they did so beautifully, exceeding my expectations. To the Newspack crew, including Steve, Claudiu, Laurel and especially Andrew: I sincerely thank you. I’m pretty sure the readers of CVIndependent.com thank you as well.
Be sure to pick up the January 2021 print edition of the Coachella Valley Independent. Stay safe, everyone—and thanks for reading, as always.
(Note: A version of this piece appeared as the Editor’s Note in the January 2021 print edition. Portions of it were also used in the Dec. 18 Daily Digest.)