The Juneau Empire is improving the look and functionality of www.juneauempire.com based on suggestions from readers for an easier and faster Web site.
The transition, which will also bring back reader commenting through an improved system, will begin Monday morning and is expected to be complete by Tuesday.
The changes to the site are functional and aesthetic, allowing for more content on the home page. Improvements include:
Refined search options for archived articles.
All local and state headlines, including letters and opinion columns, will be displayed on the home page.
Updated national and world news on the home page.
A more user-friendly format for navigating between sections.
Ads will be less obtrusive.
"Readers of our Web site have told us they want to be able to navigate with greater ease," said Online Director Hayden Hoke, "and they want to see our rundown of stories and other content more readily when they access our home page. Our online team has worked with the newsroom team to craft these improvements that our readers have asked for in the past few months."
Reader commenting on content will be back, excluding letters to the editor, stories involving minors or sex crimes and other sensitive topics.
Commenting was suspended in March when vitriol overwhelmed civil dialogue, said Managing Editor Charles Westmoreland. Since then, the Empire has been working to bring back commenting under a better system to moderate reader responses.
"It's my hope readers will appreciate the responsibility that comes with free speech as it pertains to reader comments," Westmoreland said. "We encourage open, respectful dialogue between readers. But we still will not allow nameless, cowardly attacks on readers or staff."
The e-mail verification system for user account creation also has been improved to reduce abuse. And by request, reader comments will be hidden by default.
"Readers will have to make a conscious choice to view comments" by clicking a "show comments" button, Westmoreland said. "Or they can just read the news and pretend the comments don't exist."
Westmoreland said he will look to readers for self-moderation. Users can flag inappropriate comments. If a comment is flagged several times it will be removed and Empire staff will be notified. Reports of abuse also can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The best online comments of the week will appear in the print edition of the Empire.
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