One of the buzz phrases in the media industry these days is “tech stack.” What, exactly, is a tech stack? It refers to all of the systems, software and vendors used by, well, a newspaper, like the Independent, to get what it does out to the public.
I bring this all up, because we’ve upgraded virtually the entire Independent tech stack in the last 10 months or so.
First off, we moved from an outdated Joomla website that was managed entirely-in house, to a brand-new WordPress website via Newspack, a joint project of Automattic/WordPress.com and the Google News Initiative. That happened in December 2020.
The next three tech-stack upgrades have all happened within the last month or so. We switched our digital ad service from Google Ad Manager to a company called Broadstreet. We just signed up with a company called BlueLena to help the Independent grow our audience, our revenue and our Supporters of the Independent program. Finally, we just launched our Best of Coachella Valley 2021-2022 ballot with the help of SceneThink, replacing the plain ol’ Survey Monkey ballots we’ve used in recent years.
You may be thinking: This is all well and good … but why should we care as readers?
Two reasons. First: It means that your experience in dealing with the Independent is now drastically different, and better, compared to what it was just a year ago. Our website is now one of the best news sites in the state, thanks to Newspack and Broadstreet, for both advertisers and, especially, you, our readers. If you go to vote in the Best of the Coachella Valley readers’ poll—which strongly I encourage you to do through Sept. 13—you’ll have a much smoother experience than you’ve had in previous years.
Second: All of this new tech costs money—a lot more than our “old” tech. I mention that for three reasons. First, I want to sincerely thank the advertisers who have stuck with us over these trying times since the pandemic arrived. Second, I need to thank the hundreds of readers in that time who have become Supporters of the Independent. Without our advertisers and our generous readers, we would not have survived the pandemic, much less been able to upgrade all the things we have.
Third: To those business owners out there who may be inclined to advertise, and to you readers who have the means to become supporters, I ask you to please consider doing so. We need revenue to keep producing quality local journalism—and we’d like to be able to produce even more of it.
If you want more information on any of this, or have any other sort of feedback, please write me at email@example.com.
Thank you, as always, for reading—and be sure to pick up a copy of our September 2021 print edition, on newsstands this week.