Although I'm certain that the bricks-and-mortar approach to trade publishing will never disappear, that doesn't mean that the "new economy" approach to information exchange can be given less than our complete attention.
Nor have we. The Website we launched five years ago consistently attracted a wide audience of bus and rail professionals from around the world. But these days the half-life of a Website seems to be about three hours.
That's why we recently unveiled our new and improved Website, a generational leap ahead of its predecessor. Not only does the new Website look better than the original version, it offers a whole lot more of what I call the Three I's -- information, interactivity and immediacy.
What you're looking for
Information has real value. That's why some newspapers sell archived articles through their Websites. But the critical importance of information exchange supercedes commerce, at least that was our perspective as we built a searchable archive of METRO articles that can be downloaded free.
After all, much of the information that we gather is obtained from people like you. It's only fitting that we return it, both in the magazine and at the Website. Even if you've misplaced your copy of METRO's May 1998 issue, you can download its contents at our Website. Talk about convenience.
Interactivity is what makes a Website more than the sum of its electronic parts. Whether it's a contribution to our Forum, completion of an online survey or the submission of an electronic Letter to the Editor, we want you to help establish our Website as a clearinghouse for the informed exchange of opinions, wisdom and enlightenment for all stakeholders in the industry.
Interactivity is a powerful tool. Ever tried to locate a body part for a 10-year-old bus manufactured by a company that's no longer in business? Posting an inquiry in the Forum will publicize your dilemma. Finding a needle in a haystack is difficult, but it's a lot easier with thousands of helpers. You might even locate someone who has the exact part you're looking for (and be willing to part with it for the right price).
Immediacy is almost a given these days, with "news alert" sections at Websites and the proliferation of e-mail newsletters. Too often, however, these news sections are merely a series of links to articles appearing in other publications, especially newspapers and broadcast outlets. The problem with this strategy is that most of the newspaper stories are written for the general public rather than an industry audience. Thus you can spend a lot of time separating the need-to-know information from the background noise.
Our news is reported for people like you, who already understand the industry and don't have time to wade through a 1,500-word story for 50 words of key information. We understand the importance of immediacy, but we also understand the value of time. Our stories promise not to waste any of yours.
Where credit is due
Finally, I'd like to give credit to those responsible for the outstanding redesign of the Website (www.metro-magazine.com). Managing Editor Leslie Davis and Eric Bearly, the talented web producer at Bobit Publishing, should be congratulated for their inspired efforts. They spent massive amounts of time conceiving the design, content and useability of the site. It was a successful endeavor.
Like the magazine, METRO's Website is an evolving organism, which needs to be nurtured and encouraged to grow and flourish. If you have any ideas on how to improve the site, please let us know. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.