Adding value for our subscribers

In all my years as a journalist, one of the toughest things for me as a writer has always been getting started.

I hate the term writer’s block but I guess that’s what it is.

So when I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to write this column late one night earlier this week with my Oreo thin cookies beside me for motivation — I don’t drink coffee and figured wine would just put me to sleep — I tried thinking of ways to be creative in my opening. I tried weaving in a deep personal experience or taking a lesson from a book I’m reading or pulling out a subscriber email comment as ways to get into the column.

Hours later, now well past midnight, and several cookies in, I realized there’s only one way to get into this and it’s to just be straight, no grandiose opening because, really, this column is simple. It’s about all the new, great features that The Atlanta Journal-Constitution will be introducing to subscribers over the next few weeks.

The AJC is excited about a number of things; from the recent launch of DawgNation.com to a number of significant enhancements to myAJC.com, our premium website.

DawgNation is a new website, in partnership with the AJC, offering news about University of Georgia Bulldogs sports and recruiting. You can get updates on UGA football, basketball, baseball, gymnastics and other sports.

And because we strive for balance, the newsroom is also beefing up coverage of other college football, including its coverage of Georgia Tech.

Other exciting things to come center around myAJC.com. It’s been over two years since we launched this premium website. In that time, the site has evolved and continues to evolve and improve.

When myAJC.com launched, the goal was to provide online readers with a traditional newspaperlike experience. But this is where we have evolved because now it’s much more than that.

Go to the site today and you will find much more than what is available in the printed edition.

Today it’s about driving more value for subscribers, focusing on unique local content. We’ve even upgraded the experience our subscribers have with stories.

See for yourself. Just take a look at the digital presentation of today’s story about people who came to metro Atlanta and Georgia after leaving New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It’s at http://www.myajc.com/s/living/personal-journeys/.

Or step back if you missed it and experience the powerful Personal Journeys story by sports columnist Jeff Schultz at http://personaljourneys.myAJC.com/lost-found/. Schultz told a personal story with his son about addiction, recovery and a new way of living.

Our multimedia presentation on myAJC.com brings together a story, graphics, photos, and videos in a dynamic way. And then there are special content features and interactives, like the one recently about rising property tax assessments in metro Atlanta. Check out that interactive and others at http://www.myajc.com/s/news/special-reports/. We have an entire data visualization team of technical geniuses (that’s what I call them) creating this type of content.

So what’s next in the evolution of our premium website?

First up: Beginning Sept. 8, myAJC.com will allow all users to view five stories per month before they will need to log in or subscribe. Potential subscribers will have a better opportunity to sample our premium content and gain access to our top-notch journalism, and more of our news, features, opinions and investigative journalism, free of charge. The intent is to show that value I mentioned earlier.

The Boston Globe and The New York Times are examples of news organizations already doing this.

Also coming in September, watch for a new myAJC.com design with a series of navigation, blog, story-page and section-front improvements. These changes respond to feedback from our users, and build on all we’ve learned since the site launched in April 2013.

But that’s not it. In addition to the engaging, multimedia storytelling, we’re also pleased to bring you more local content that reflects your interests and passions, and more national and world news.

New local topic channels on myAJC.com will be packed with even more deep, smart and useful content for people passionate about food, travel, politics, sports, education and homes.

New content from The New York Times and USA Today will connect you to deeper coverage of national and world news. Our printed edition and myAJC.com will include daily news and opinion columns from The New York Times.

Also, check out our enhancements to the AJC ePaper that will expand to include pages from USA Today and new upgrades that make it even easier to read on your smartphone.

And soon, subscribers will get exclusive access to our popular blogs like Get Schooled by Maureen Downey; Political Insider, led by Jim Galloway with contributions from our team of political reporters; and sports blogger Jeff Schultz.

These enhancements to the design, functionality and content of myAJC.com add tremendous value for you.

All the new features are on top of what’s already offered to subscribers of the premium site. Subscribers already have access to news when it breaks; all AJC staff stories and photos found in the daily printed newspaper; in-depth watchdog and investigative stories; links to obituaries, comics and syndicated columnists; and weekly features such as Homefinder and the AJC’s Go Guide.

If you’re a subscriber you already have access to the site and the only thing you need to do is log in.

MyAJC.com access is included with all AJC subscriptions. Existing customers must set up a login and password at ajcdelivers.com/AddDigital for uninterrupted access. To become a subscriber, visit ajcdelivers/subscribe.

And if you haven’t heard, you can now share your AJC digital subscription with up to four members of your household and they won’t have to pay a dime to get all of your subscription benefits. It’s called our “Friends & Family, The Power of Five” offer and it’s free for both you and them. Just send them an invitation and they’ll have complete access once they accept your invitation.

As we evolve, we are focused on adding value to our digital products. There’s more to love, more to know and more to explore. Take time to read the difference on myAJC.com because we are delivering more of what matters to you.

OK, so now I can put the Oreos away.

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