It's a bird … it's a plane … it's E-Journal!

    This July marks my eight-year anniversary at the BBJ – and for each of those eight years, I’ve wanted us to have the BBJ online, archived, for people to be able to read whenever they want to.
    It’s eight years coming, but that day is here. The entire BBJ – from feature stories and front-page news to building permits, the Looking Back article, editorials, columnists, bankruptcies, everything – is now available at
    A glorious thing it is, and well worth the wait (and by the way, the “E” in “E-Journal” stands for “electronic.” Very cutting-edge, isn’t it?).
    So why the delay?
    Economics, mostly. I needed to find a way to get our newspaper online in a way that didn’t break the bank, provided for opportunities for local advertisers (and thank you to Lylene Johnson of the Johnson Group for being our first banner advertiser; hopefully, more of that to follow), and was easy to update and archive.
    Other reasons: I needed the web to become simpler, to come down to my level. Since I was going to be the one building and updating the site every month (along with our staunch, tried-and-true graphic artist, Sean Echelbarger), there needed to be a software system for doing this that was designed for Joe Everyman, not Joe Techhead.
    Finally, I stumbled on a program that would allow me to be “the man behind the site.” These types of programs are called Content Management Systems, and they vary in difficulty from supersimple blog software to ultracomplex, big-site stuff that was Greek to me.
    Having found a happy medium, I began plugging away on the first versions of the site back around Thanksgiving
    It’s had more iterations, versions, additions, and subtractions than the city budget in that intervening time.
    Many ideas were tried, and discarded. Others are still being worked on, perhaps because I’m just too stubborn to know when I’m beaten. Others have been introduced and integrated into the site, such as a Google search box and a portal to Village Books’ website (support your local bookseller!).
    Now comes the interesting “see how they like it” phase.
    For this phase to work, to really be meaningful and useful, I’ll need your feedback.
    Check out the site. See if you think it’s useful to you. All of the data, such as Top Properties and Bankruptcies, is fully cut-and-pasteable for your ease of use.
    Browse the stories. See how they read online. See if the navigation structure is easy to use.
    And, when you’re done perusing, e-mail me with your thoughts, good, bad, or indifferent.
    It’s the only way the site is going to get better. You’ve been waiting eight years – dig in!

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