Opinion: It’s time for you to try our ePaper: You’ll love it

June Sullenger, a subscriber to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, views our ePaper digital edition recently.

Credit: contributed

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June Sullenger, a subscriber to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, views our ePaper digital edition recently.

Credit: contributed

I often hear from some of our subscribers that they’re devoted to the printed edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

I’m a die-hard and still get it in print every day, they’ll say to me.

I’d always say “thank you,” because we appreciate and depend on subscribers to make our journalism possible. But I’ve changed how I respond over the past couple of years.

Now, after expressing my deep appreciation to them for being a subscriber, I’ll say: “Have you tried the ePaper?”

With the rapid changes in technology in our society, we now offer a product for all of you “die-hards” that is even better than that printed newspaper you love so much.

I know because I converted to the ePaper several years ago. And if you grew up enjoying a newspaper in your hands as I did, I urge you to try our ePaper.

(I know some of you are at this moment thinking “I like my printed newspaper. I don’t want to change my morning routine.” Stick with me here.)

In case you’re not familiar with it, let me take a moment to describe its advantages.

First, the ePaper is part of your subscription – you don’t have to pay extra. Just go to AJC.com/activate to activate your account.

It’s a page-by-page digital version of the newspaper – “an interactive PDF replica” if you’d like to throw around some technical terminology. But it’s a much richer experience for the reader. More about the many ways it’s an improvement on the printed newspaper in a bit.

You can use it on your computer or a tablet or phone. (I use it on an iPad.)

It looks like the newspaper, and with a click or tap, you turn the pages. You can e-mail stories, or print them out. You can electronically clip stories, or even save stories to read later. Or you can do research in past editions.

And once you try it, you’ll love it. I promise, and we have evidence that you will.

Thanks to the leadership of Dawn Forman, senior director customer experience, retention and service and Joe Wheeler, senior manager of customer service, a group of “die-hard” print readers in Cherokee County proved to us just how much people like the ePaper when they try it.

As a chance to test adoption of the ePaper, we contacted about 1,800 subscribers in Cherokee. Through letters, calls and e-mails, we invited them to sit down with our customer service specialists and try the ePaper.

The result? They’re convinced.

“We’ve a had a few ‘oh, wow’ moments,” Wheeler said, as subscribers discovered the interactive crossword puzzle and other features.

“I’ve been a subscriber for 40 years,” said one. “I never thought it would come to this, but I’m willing to give it a try. I love my AJC and have to have my local news.”

Forman and Wheeler described their inspiring experience as these somewhat reluctant technology converts reacted to the months-long plan they had put together.

“They can sit with their iPad and a cup of coffee,” Forman said, except with something even better than their printed newspaper.

“The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is their connection to the world,” Forman said. “This is a better way to stay connected.”

People consume the journalism we provide in many ways: print, at AJC.com, in our e-mail newsletters, listening to our podcasts and in the ePaper. What’s become clear to us: you do that because you crave a connection to your community. You want to stay informed.

Now, to why the ePaper is better than print.

Technology lets us provide more pages and much later deadlines in the ePaper. You can count on it being available at 5:30 a.m. As a practical matter, the demands of printing the newspaper, packaging it and delivering it require us to limit what we can do for you to make sure that newspaper shows up on time.

Among the advantages of the ePaper:

  • Better breaking news coverage, including late sports scores and stories, and late news developments
  • Daily “digital extras,” including our “In-depth Extra” pages that provide explainers and context of big news stories. We also offer special sections on the Braves, and our other teams.
  • County by County pages with more news from where you live.
  • Breaking news “special editions,” such as our recent coverage of elections.
  • Interactive crossword and other puzzles.
  • Advertising that you value.

Here’s one recent example of how the ePaper highlights our journalism. We recently published a terrifying investigative story about extortion by gangs in Georgia’s Pulaski State Prison for women. The story described how a gang member called the mother of a prisoner demanding money to be sent via Cash App or the daughter would be attacked. The mother recorded the call since her previous complaints went unheeded by state officials.

On the ePaper page, you could click on the story and actually hear the recording. Something like that just isn’t possible in a printed newspaper. The ePaper inspires more in-depth and creative journalism for you.

“The need for what we do has never been more important,” Forman said. She’s right, and we have better ways to do it.

It’s inevitable that the days of a daily printed newspaper delivered to your home are numbered – although we and most industry experts believe the Sunday printed edition will be around for a long time.

But the ePaper – it’s just a huge improvement over print, and it keeps you connected to the world.

Give it a try. It’s time.

Kevin Riley is editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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