Internet innovators: A little something to whet your appetite

By Sky Chadde

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo – This 60-mile stretch of valley, bordered by the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park, is a beautiful panorama staged in southern Wyoming. In accord with its natural surroundings, the Jackson Hole News & Guide website follows suit.

The website has been modified and adapted since its July 2006 inception. Full color ads, photographs and lots of videos fill its digital pages, creating a website that attracts more than 5,000 visitors a day.

"Being a resort destination, many of our readers and potential readers are scattered across the country," said Kevin Olson, the associate publisher of the newspaper, when he explained why the paper decided to start a website. The site allows the paper to acquire a reader base – before they even show up for the tourist season.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide website also features Twitter, Facebook and RSS feeds that offer headlines, complete with links to full stories, to followers. Olson said the use of social media has brought more viewers to the site and ultimately to the paper. An e-edition, an online digital copy of the paper as it appears in print, is also available. An addition incorporated into the website as of February 2008 is the JH Property Guide, a real estate resource for the residents and potential residents of Jackson Hole. The guide is more than just a classified section, Olson said. "(It's) a modern evolution of the Jackson Hole News & Guide website."

Olson and his staff are particularly proud of the property guide. A potential buyer or renter can link to the guide directly from the paper's website. People can narrow their search by location and price, bringing up a list of each property that fulfills the selected criteria with an accompanying picture of that property. The site also offers profiles of all of Jackson Hole's real estate agents. Even though the website has many different news options, its purpose has always remained clear.

"We use the website as an appetizer to the printed edition," Olson said. The website offers four feature stories compared to the newspaper's average of 80.

"(We believe) less content (on the website) is better," Olson added. The purposefully limited selection of news is intended to make websites viewers into newspaper buyers.

"We want to convert a Web reader into a Jackson Hole News & Guide subscriber, (because there's) a lot more payoff to the buyer in the print edition than the Web edition."

Sky Chadde is a student in the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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