Times launches mobile apps
Nearly 129 years after its first issue rolled off the press in Huntersville, The Pocahontas Times is leaping headlong into the 21st century with the roll-out of new applications for mobile devices.
In recent weeks, the newspaper has released mobile apps on Google's Android platform, as well as Apple's iOS family of mobile devices, which includes the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The mobile applications can be downloaded through Google Play and Apple's iTunes App Store.
The new applications deliver the Electronic Edition, or e-Edition, of The Pocahontas Times to smartphones and tablets with the publication of each week's issue of the paper.
"Digital media is the future of print media, so I thought it was time that we did this," said Pamela Pritt, Editor of The Pocahontas Times. "Subscribers who are having trouble with the U.S. Postal Service can have their paper now, not only on their computers, but on their mobile devices, as well."
The new applications are an extension of the e-Edition of The Pocahontas Times that was launched in March 2011. Like the e-Edition, the mobile applications present each week's issue as an interactive, on-screen replica of the print edition.
As with the e-Edition, the mobile apps are updated each Thursday by noon.
While the e-Edition can be viewed on the web browser of a mobile device, the user must have access to a data or wi-fi connection to view it. However, once the mobile application is installed on a device, individual issues of The Pocahontas Times can be fully downloaded to the device, allowing for offline viewing. As with the e-Edition, users of the apps can search for keywords within a single issue or across back-issues of the newspaper. Users can also bookmark individual pages of an issue for future reference.
Users can choose to order a subscription to The Pocahontas Times' content within the app. Alternatively, users who are already subscribed to the e-Edition can use their existing username and password to access issues in the mobile applications.
As the last commercial publication to continue using handset type as part of its production process until the mid 1980s, The Pocahontas Times has made considerable leaps in technology in the past three decades. Due to the damage caused by the November 1985 flood, The Pocahontas Times was among the first West Virginia newspapers to switch completely to the use of computers and desktop publishing software. Today, it's among just a handful of newspapers in the state to offer a mobile application to deliver its news to readers.
"This business did not change for the first 100 or so years of print media," noted Pritt. "The only way to get news was through the newspaper. We experienced changes with radio and then television, but the changes weren't as pervasive as they have been with the Internet. The changes have come about so quickly, and we cannot afford-no matter what market we're in-to wait. We have to be proactive in order to keep up with the changes."
Continuing education for the newspaper and its staff has been part of the newspaper's proactive approach.
"One of the things that really keeps us up-to-speed here is our work with the Pearly Isaac Reed School of Journalism [at West Virginia University] and the West Virginia Uncovered program," said Pritt.
Since 2008, the West Virginia Uncovered program has partnered with rural, weekly newspapers in the state to provide student-produced multimedia content, as well as training and workshop opportunities for newspaper staff.
In recent years, Pritt said, The Pocahontas Times relationship with the journalism program has helped the newspaper to stay on top of the rapid pace of change in the news industry, how to use digital media and strategies for better serving readers online.
Pritt says the digital age will continue to change how The Pocahontas Times delivers news to its readers.
"As early as 1999, the executive director of the West Virginia Press Association told me that the Internet could make a weekly paper a daily paper," said Pritt. "And I think that will happen for us. We will be updating content on our website more regularly than every Thursday at noon. We will be first with the news from Pocahontas County."
In the years since 1999, Pritt said she has gained a clearer picture of The Pocahontas Times' digital future.
"For the longest time, I didn't know what the digital age was going to look like for The Pocahontas Times, and now I do," Pritt continued. "We have our website, we have the e-Edition, and we have these mobile applications. Right now, we're doing everything that we can do in order to deliver our product to the people who want it-in whichever ways they want to receive it."
To download The Pocahontas Times for Android, visit play.google.com and search for "Pocahontas Times." The iPhone and iPad apps can be downloaded via the iTunes App Store. The e-Edition can be accessed online at eedition.pocahontastimes.com
Drew Tanner may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org