June has been a month of milestones for me. On top of end-of-schoolyear awards and events, farm league baseball and softball games (high school, too), my family celebrated a graduation, an 18th birthday, a retirement, and sadly, attended a couple funerals, too. Everything but a wedding, and until midnight last Friday, a birth.

But I can add that life-transforming moment … the birth, not the wedding … to the cycles of life I’ve experienced in the last few weeks because the new Coastal Journal website went “live” June 17, and your favorite Southern Midcoast weekly is forevermore changed.

Over the years, if I’ve received a complaint more than any other, it’s that online readers couldn’t “share” Coastal Journal stories from our website to their own, to social media sites, or even by email to a friend. There was a workaround to this, and I happily shared it with anyone who asked.

The former coastaljournal.com was designed on a PDF platform, so when you visited us there, what you saw was the Coastal Journal exactly as it appears in print. If you subscribe to a grocery store’s weekly sales flier, like Shaw’s, when you click on the link in the email, it brings you a PDF, too, and you can page through it just like the one you get in the mailbox. Same with the old online CJ.

I’ve tried to tally the wisdom that led to this development (long before my time or most of the folks who helped us with the redesign). I always came back to: Why?

In this digital age, we should have been able to post news and information as it happened, even though we only come out in print once a week. If readers were frustrated that they couldn’t share our stories, imagine how discouraging it was for your editorial team to have a story and not be able to share it with anyone … When. It. Happened.

For example, remember that moose that swam across the Kennebec and hoofed ashore at Waterfront Park before leading police on a galloping chase up Centre Street hill, back in 2014? We watched it happen FROM OUR OFFICE WINDOWS IN REAL TIME.

Same with the meth lab bust on Elm Street in 2014, and the car that flipped off the old viaduct – and the one that went through the window of Now You’re Cooking on Front Street – last year.
Until June 17, the best Chris Chase and I could do was to put stories like those directly on social media.

Chris would scramble to get photos and interview sources and I would push it all onto Facebook … and then we’d wait to be, as we say in the industry, “scooped” by other news outlets, who would see what amounted to a “status update” and mobilize their journalist brigade to publish directly to their websites that, conveniently, they could update at will.

What’s the problem? Don’t people get most of their news and information from social media sources these days? Technically, we had it first, right? And what does it matter, anyway, who has a story first? What? Are we in kindergarten?

You’ve probably noticed that in the (almost) five and (almost) four years that Chris and I have staffed the editorial department at the Coastal Journal, we’ve worked honestly and tirelessly to earn readers trust and respect as a serious, thoughtful, and thorough Southern Midcoast news and information source.

From your feedback, I believe we have achieved – and continue to earn – this goal.

But we’ve also had to sit on – or not tell at all – a lot of stories because they didn’t “break” along the lines of our print publication cycle. Without a way to share them with you – like the new, fully updateable, real-time, live, yes-you-can-share-that-with-one-click coastaljournal.com – we were stuck. We told the stories we could tell, followed the ones we could add to, and even covered things we knew we would be “way late” on because of … well, issues of posterity (certain Bath Iron Works launchings come to mind, like the Zumwalt) and watched wistfully as the ones that got away went off to other outlets.

It’s always been OK that you got exactly the same thing online as you did on the rack, but we are so very happy that now coastaljournal.com will an evolving news source. We can’t wait to tell you more stories when they happen. And you? You can share them, too.

I give a whole ton of credit to our reporter, Chris Chase, who has been busy building the content at coastaljournal.com since the beta was released to us on May 25. I’ve been tied up with multiple “specials,” like the new Bath High School Alumni Association sections and two Midcoast Maine magazines, and I don’t know how we could have gotten this website as ready and relevant as it is without Chris taking the lead.

Thank you, as well, to our colleagues at MaineToday Media: Matt Fulton, Karen Beaudoin, Jim Patrick, Egan Millard, Barbara Bock, Allison McCann, Cindy Stevens, Molly Adams, and Deb Fuller, and others (I’m sure I am forgetting someone … my apologies). They helped us build the new website, trained us to populate and manage it, offered guidance on social media postings, and designed fabulous promotional ads to announce this birth. Plus, they are with us 100 percent with support, encouragement, and ideas.

And, a very, very special thank you to our launching advertisers Wiscasset Ford, Plant Home, Midcoast Energy Systems, Morong Brunswick, and William Raveis Carleton Real Estate. We are so grateful for your support as we enter a new era of Coastal Journal publishing.

What are you waiting for? Get clicking at coastaljournal.com!