News in your pocket and on your front porch

Oftentimes, people I meet in the community are curious about the future of the Sun-Star. I’ll hear questions like, “I hear your building’s for sale, are you closing up?” or “The paper isn’t what it used to be, is the Sun-Star shutting down?”

Many folks are surprised when I say, “No way! We’re not going anywhere — and, you may not realize it, but we’re bigger than ever!”

The thing is, the Sun-Star and other newspapers aren’t what we used to be: We’re so much more.

The print deadline is no longer what drives our schedule. We are working under a constant deadline – one that aims to bring you news as quickly as we can, delivered not necessarily to your porch, but to your pocket.

This came to mind for me over the weekend when I kept looking to my phone to check the latest news on the storm dropping rain across our stretch of California. The Sun-Star and our sister papers up and down the Valley were on top of storm coverage, keeping the stories updated in a way that would have been unthinkable for newspapers of the past.

Long ago, a newspaper reporter or editor might have been able to expect to go home after the paper went to print. Not any more. Now, as long as news is developing, we are on the job.

We still produce the print Sun-Star, of course. But our readers can access our news at any time, as quickly as we can produce content that meets our high standards for accuracy.

We still have a print deadline, but it’s earlier than ever — generally by around 4 p.m. every afternoon. That means our team starts our day earlier than newspaper reporters of the past might have. And, we are chasing stories while the news is still in motion, writing multiple versions of a story as it unfolds and publishing to our website with each new development.

And when it comes to readership, we are reaching more people than ever before.

Nearly 425,000 people (unique visitors) visited during November, according to figures reported by Omniture, an independent web analytics agency. The number includes 133,732 visits from the local area and 290,147 visits made from outside the area — indicating there is strong interest in what’s happening in Merced County even from afar.

Our mobile app for smartphones had more than 277,000 unique visitors in November, a number that grew by more than 17 percent from the year before.

When it comes to social media, Facebook is our largest driver of online traffic. As of Thursday afternoon, we had more than 29,600 followers.

So, yes, our building is up for sale. And while we may end up finding new office space, the Sun-Star is not going away. We are staying right here in Merced and our team is working hard, keeping an eye on the community and delivering the latest news right to your fingertips.

Now, perhaps more than ever, newspapers matter. And, when it comes to news that matters, you can count on your hometown newspaper being there. You’ve got us in the palm of your hand.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and questions. We’re here to serve.

Michelle Morgante is the managing editor of the Merced Sun-Star: 209-385-2456,