This month we’re unveiling the third overhaul of our online presence in less than two years, so I can’t blame you if you’re skeptical about the significance and value of our new website.
But this time it’s different.
When Michael Morris bought the AJT at the end of 2014 and brought me back as editor, we recognized the need to revamp a dated, clunky website. But while we concentrated initially on the print newspaper, that site had a catastrophic failure in the spring of 2015. We were forced to implement a new site on the fly just to stay online.
That new site looked much better but otherwise wasn’t much of an improvement.
We already were working with some consultants on a dramatically upgraded site, however, and that painstaking process moved ahead, albeit much more slowly than we hoped. Despite good intentions and talented people working on the site, however, what we rolled out in the late summer of 2015 was never quite right.
In November 2015 we had our first conversations with The Times of Israel, which had launched a network of independent local papers with New Jersey’s Jewish Standard earlier in the year and was looking to expand the partnership.
It took 10 months of discussions and negotiations, but we finally started working on our new site as part of the growing Times of Israel network in September. We went live this month.
Thanks to the flexible site structure created by RGB Media for The Times of Israel, our site now looks and works better than it ever has before. We can share more news more quickly in more logical ways, and you should be able to find the information you care about much more easily.
Just as vital, you’ll be able to join and drive the community conversation in two key ways: You can comment on articles through your Facebook profile, and you can have your own blog, from which you’ll be able to reach not only all of Jewish Atlanta, but all of the Times of Israel partner network.
The site is not perfect. We still have some glitches to work out, particularly involving our community calendar, and it will take our staff some time to learn how to make the best use of the new tools available to us.
But you already will see new features when you visit atlantajewishtimes.timesofisrael.com, such as the Daily Briefing, which each weekday morning gives you the information you need to make the most of your participation in our Jewish community and to jump into Jewish Atlanta’s conversation. You’ll find better photo galleries. You’ll see more variety in the display of stories and far more information presented at a glance. You’ll have links directly to news on other sites that we think is important but that we can’t cover better than someone else is doing.
We plan to do more video, including live streaming, and we’re eager to try out the live-blogging tools available to us.
We want the AJT website to play a crucial role in pulling Jewish Atlanta ever closer together as one community — full of diversity and disagreements but sharing an identity and a sense of time and place you can’t find anywhere else.
Please send us feedback on your experiences with the site. The more the community embraces and helps mold the site, the better it will be able to fulfill its role as the virtual gathering place for our Atlanta community, as well as the place connecting Jewish Atlanta to the rest of Georgia and our neighbors in Tennessee and the Carolinas.
Associate Editor David R. Cohen is taking the lead on our online operations. You can send comments, suggestions and questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give either David or me a call at 404-883-2130.