Xpress 2.0

Things move fast in the Internet age. Here at Mountain Xpress, for example, we’ve been adding new bells and whistles to our Web site at such a rapid rate that it’s probably a good time to take stock of our online offerings and share some highlights.

In addition to all our regular news and arts coverage, which appears on the site, here’s how to take advantage of the online-only features at mountainx.com.

Follow the paper trail in The Xpress Files: This ever-growing archive features documents from local, state and federal government agencies. It’s where you’ll find such varied public records as e-mails to the mayor, audits of groups that receive county funding, environmental assessments and police reports.

See the souped-up Garden and Outdoors pages: We recently rearranged these two sections to make the content more dynamic and useful. Both pages now feature up-to-date posts, relevant Twitter feeds and links to recent Forum posts on those topics.
www.mountainx.com/garden and www.mountainx.com/outdoors

Tune in to your favorite bands: Given our area’s rich variety of musical talent, no local-entertainment site would be complete without a page featuring local bands. Ours is a one-stop shop for pictures, descriptions, contact info, band-member names and other information on your favorite acts.

Find your favorite food: Our online dining guide offers a full menu of local restaurant and bar information. You can search by the name of the eatery or survey the options by style of cuisine. The guide features addresses and phone numbers, links to restaurants’ Web sites, and Google maps to help get you where you want to drink and dine.

Turn the page with literary news and reviews: Xpress arts writer Alli Marshall authors the weekly Web-only feature Book Report, which is stocked with literary news, reviews and interviews.

Check out Asheville’s street fashions: Asheville Street Style is a photographic record of Asheville’s unique and evolving DIY fashion scene. Enabling you to take in the latest trends online, the recently added feature is updated regularly with shots of the city’s stylish denizens.

Read the news by topic: A few months ago, we began tagging our news and feature articles with the main topics they cover. Clicking on the hyperlinked tags—which you’ll find just under the article titles—will take you to a list of all the stories tagged with the same topics. And by visiting the All Tags page, you can now search out content based on all the tags in the system.

Show off your flickr photos: We’re working hard to improve the way we collaborate with the community, and our newly created flickr group is the latest example. Once you have a flickr.com account (it’s free), you can join the Mountain Xpress Community Photo Gallery and add your photos. Each week, we’ll highlight selected shots by community photographers on www.mountainx.com. So grab your camera and join the fun.

Don’t miss our photo galleries: Our regularly updated photo galleries feature collections of images shot by Xpress photographers, interns and community members. The galleries are connected to news events or stories you’ll find in our print edition. If you want to buy a print to keep, contact us at news@mountainx.com.

Fire up the freewheeling forums: There’s always a lively discussion in the Xpress Forums. Signing up is simple (you just need to provide a valid e-mail address). After that, you’re free to start a new discussion thread, engage in a thoughtful discussion with fellow boarders and even get caught up in a flame war or two, if that’s your thing. Topics run the gamut. Jump in and mix it up.

Keep track of the big screen: Xpress readers are familiar with Ken Hanke’s keen-edged movie reviews in each week’s print edition, but if you’re not looking online, you’re missing out on Hanke’s Screening Room column and a new blog feature called Movie Buzz.
www.mountainx.com/movies/screening_room and www.mountainx.com/movies

Update your calendar: Mountain Xpress prides itself on offering one of the most comprehensive community calendars in our print pages. The calendar is also available online. But the first week in May, we’ll launch a revised online calendar that will be much more user-friendly. Key improvements include: a search function that will enable readers to find events by date, key words or category; and an interface that will let users submit information directly into our calendar database (we’ll review the info and approve it for publication).

The Twitter-powered newspaper lives on: Xpress unveiled the “Twaper,” its Twitter-powered newspaper, on April 1. But it wasn’t just a joke—it was an experiment in community collaboration. We want you to know that the Twaper lives on, and you can join in. Conceived as a social-messaging platform, Twitter—in concert with Xpress’ Web site—lets citizen journalists post instant minireports on current happenings (140 characters maximum) or highlight links to items of interest. We’re looking for trusted partners to help us tweet the news on Twitter, so if you’re interested, send us a direct message at Twitter or e-mail news@mountainx.com.
www.mountainx.com/twaper and http://twitter.com/mountainxpress

Get a laugh: Mountain Xpress features funnies each week in print, and you can also view all our cartoons online. And for a twisted, witty take on local happenings, don’t miss the Asheville Disclaimer.
www.mountainx.com/cartoons and www.mountainx.com/disclaimer


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

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Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

5 thoughts on “Xpress 2.0

  1. AshevilleObserver

    None of your editors responded to a previous comment about your new-media initiatives, so offering it again. Still hoping to hear your thoughts and also to have some follow commentary, perhaps from SmithMillCreek, about HatchFest.

    Not sure where this comment belongs, since it’s about the Mountain Express’s adoption of Twitter and its growing emphasis on online technologies as a way of delivering “content.” It also relates to “Citizen Journalism.” But the “content” of this comment grows out of reading about, visiting, and trying to understand HatchFest, so it’s posted here.

    Not clear how the Twitter comments illuminate the HatchFest experience for someone who is not in attendance. For example, someone says, “RT @AskAsheville Eating a bagel outside of the Grove Arcade, getting ready to hear Julie Shapiro on Journalism at Hatch Asheville #hatchavl.” This is Citizen Journalism?

    More to the point, however, are the remarks by SmithMillCreek, who in his or her 140 characters is dubious about the HatchFest experience. For example, “SmithMillCreek:#hatchavl Not saying they aren’t talented, just that they are trivial & frivolous” and “the “creative” panel reveals that they are in fact selfish & clueless” and “Makes me deeply question Hatch. Who invited such eco-clueless people? They’re mostly under 35.
    Apr. 17, 3:39 pm . . SmithMillCreek:#hatchavl Moderator asks creativity panel what the role of designers is, given climate. Their answers: deeply pathetic & self-absorbed.”

    This pretty strong stuff, but hard for a reader to evaluate. Is Twitter supposed to stimulate a dialogue? Why is no one responding to SmithMillCreek? If the value of Twitter is its real time” quality, shouldn’t supporters of HatchFest be replying?

    And, as editors and professional journalists, are the staff of Mountain Express, who are also Twittering about HatchFest, paying attention to SmithMillCreek? Aren’t you curious about what’s prompting his remarks? Should a reporter seek him out and find out what’s going on? Invite him to write a commentary (longer than 140 characters) about HatchFest?

    Maybe the Twitter aspect of Citizen Journalism is not yet well-developed?

  2. Jeff Fobes

    Asheville Observer,
    Good comments, to which I will respond this weekend. Thanks for taking the time to raise good questions. And in the meantime, we’ll see if we can’t get SmithMillCreek to weigh in on his comments.

    One quick thought: By itself, Twitter fails to provide much that’s needed for good journalism. But as an adjunct, it has lots of value.

    More to come …

  3. AshevilleObserver

    Thank you. Looking forward to knowing more about the challenges that new media technologies present to delivering quality journalism. Mountain Express is Asheville’s only hope for a good newspaper at present, whether in print or online. Stay focused on quality! Maybe the editors and reporters need to be following Twitter (and following up – quickly – on what they learn there). But does it offer much, in its undigested state, to readers who are looking for editorial and reportorial judgement? We can trawl the Internet for the raw material of news. We need a newspaper – online or in print – to help us find the gems in the mud.

  4. Jeff Fobes

    Sounds like you’re the one who’s dubious about Twitter’s value to journalism and, as well, Xpress’ growing emphasis on online technologies.

    I’m often struck by Twitter’s limitations as a journalistic tool. But I’m more often struck by its ability to let virtually anyone in our community self-publish.

    Certainly tweets work great when a citizen reports a spill on the I-240 that’s backing up traffic or a fire at Richmond Hill Inn. It also works well when someone tweets photos from a local event they’ve attended.

    Less clear is its function as a live-feed of an ongoing meeting or convention.

    And when citizens are doing the reporting, traditional journalistic rules sometimes take a back seat to whatever new rules the citizens are following.

    Xpress set up the #mxnow “citizen local news feed” as moderated because we wanted to be able to set some standards. But as we add more citizen moderators, the standards become an evolving and amorphous thing.

    Don’t expect a finished product. We’re experimenting. No one knows where the “networkification” is taking human enterprise/societies. But the process has been unleashed. My sense is we’re better off if we experiment and take some controlled chances.

    SmithMillCreek’s comments that you refer to were opinions (not facts), and in my opinion strayed out of bounds for what I considered “moderator behavior.” But I also was willing to let the experiment proceed. There are, after all, a number of moderators, and we need to develop a dialogue about what is and isn’t appropriate.

    That said, SmithMillCreek’s comments challenged the festival, attendees, participants and organizers. The festival — and a news feed worth its salt — needs challenges and criticism. I waited and wondered if anyone would respond. No one did, and I regret that.

    In the end, did the HatchAVL twitter feed shed much light on the festival? I say it did, and certainly more than we got from the “professional” journalists, who were busy covering other beats. I wish it went further. (By the way, did you catch all the videos of the event, many of which were linked on the twitter feed? Those give you more of a sense of being at the various events.)

    But if you’re yearning for an in-depth, thoughtful, WORDY article about the festival, looking at its import, its failings and its consequences — you’re not alone. I’d like to read that too.

    While you can expect more experimentation (and I hope you’ll continue to react along the way), Xpress also maintains its ongoing professional (old-school) journalistic work. There’s plenty of call for that. Consider the twitter feed an add-on, not a replacement.

    The exciting part, in my book, is amalgamating the two, and then seeing what comes next.

  5. AshevilleObserver

    Interested to learn that your Twitter feed is moderated. Thank you for your thoughtful response. As for that WORDY article on HatchFest (even online, we still need words – or rather words composed into analysis and reporting), can you not solicit/commission/assign one? Mountain Express was more strongly invested in HatchFest than Citizen-Times, so maybe you owe your readers a good post-mortem of the event. More and more, what the editors and reporters at Mountain Express choose to write about is becoming Asheville’s agenda. Citizen-Times no longer fulfills that function.

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