2007 begins my tenth year as editor of Savannah’s favorite weekly newspaper, beginning first with Creative Loafing and on through its 2001 merger with Connect Savannah.
During that decade a lot’s changed in this market. Once sleepy, seasonal Savannah now bursts at the seams year-round with arts and cultural events. Some of these events -- like the Savannah Music Festival, which we’re major sponsors of -- are absolutely world-class.
Rapid job and population growth has forced Savannah to look beyond its traditional role as a passive, inward-looking steward of the memory of a quirky and charismatic old South that’s long gone -- or perhaps never really was.
And oh, yeah -- in that ten years a little thing came along called the Internet.
With all that in mind, we’re embarking on a series of content upgrades over the next few months, an effort which will culminate in the launch of a new and vastly improved website sometime in the spring.
My working concept will be to reimagine Connect Savannah as a hyper-local website with a print version, rather than the other way around.
Wait! This does NOT mean the print version you hold in your hands is going away or getting smaller -- far from it!
Rather, this is simply a guiding principle, a roadmap reflecting the new media reality that the Internet is the preferred source of information for the active and well-connected people we want to reach.
The media outlet of the 21st Century is an organic, constantly evolving entity. In that vein we’ll roll out our changes in beta fashion in print and online as they become ready, with the understanding that they can and will morph as needed.
The days of the good old-fashioned newspaper redesign -- wherein a publication waits until all its ducks are in a row and launches a “new look” which it’s then stuck with for years -- are over. Today’s media redesigns itself 24/7, 365, and that’s what we’ll do too.
New media is all about transparency, so as part of this content reimagination I’ll be writing a weekly column specifically to address the ongoing changes we make, inviting your feedback all along the way.
Every media outlet, at least in this country, is first and foremost a commercial venture. Therefore also in the interest of transparency, I’ll use this space to keep you abreast of the many local events Connect Savannah sponsors. We put our money where our mouth is, and you should be aware of what we attach our name to.
Unlike the Augusta-owned Savannah Morning News --some of whose writers seem to take perverse delight in dumping on the efforts of local arts groups while pushing you to attend out-of-town events like Spoleto -- Connect Savannah is proud of our role as a locally-owned aggressive advocate for arts and cultural organizations here at home.
So here’s your weekly update:
This week we introduce a new voice in the paper, Summer Teal Simpson (don’t you love that name?), who gives us this week’s lead story on the “Gardening Like the Forest” workshop at the JEA and the Bamboo Farms, an event which Connect Savannah is proud to sponsor this year.
I’d also like to quasi-introduce Scott Howard, who contributes his “Pop” column on -- you guessed it -- pop culture twice a month. Technically his first column ran two weeks ago, but I’m sure a lot of you were out of town and missed it.
We welcome a new photographer into the Connect fold, Jen Blatty, who joins the adventurous Jessica Ozment in our stable of shooters. In addition to her work in Connect you can see more of Jen’s photography at her upcoming show at Venus de Milo (for info check out her listing in Art Patrol starting on page 26).
This week’s issue is a homecoming of sorts for longtime contributor and proud CAT driver Tom Parrish, who tells of his New Year’s Day plunge on page 10.
Small change to Matt Brunson’s usual weekly film reviews, which are now called “Screenshots” to reflect the fact that the section sometimes contains reviews of movies which have not yet opened in Savannah (and for reasons sadly beyond our control, may never open here).
Upcoming events we’re sponsoring include Taste of Savannah Feb. 2 at the Convention and Visitors Center, an annual event from the Tourism Leadership Council. This year’s theme is “Flavors From Around the World.”
We’re also partnering to sponsor the March 14 Evening With Garrison Keillor at the Johnny Mercer Theatre. Tickets are on sale now (and be aware this is not a “Prairie Home Companion” show).
We’ll be giving away tickets to the Ray Charles tribute “Can’t Stop Loving You” Jan. 21 at the Johnny Mercer on our website, as well as tickets to the aforementioned Taste of Savannah.
Lastly: I’m compiling a FAQs file about Connect Savannah to publish in the paper and as a standing feature on the website. Send any and all questions, comments, etc. to me at:
Oh -- and happy new year! ƒç