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Tue., Sep. 1
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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The WDT prepares to change ... and it's gonna hurt just a bit


What's your name? Who's your daddy? Is he rich like me. Has he taken, any time. To show you what you need to live?

JULY 7, 2011: The WDT staff has been on a great roll the past few months.
Reporter Brian Kelly broke the story about the U.S. fisherman who was fined $1,000 for drift fishing in Canada — a story that led to a month-long debate between government officials of both countries.
Reporter Craig Fox was the first reporter to outline the meltdown in the City of Watertown's recreation department, and he also broke the story about the fact that Samaritan Medical Center's assisted living facility was in jeopardy because its proposed construction site is a wetlands.
Brian Amaral broke the story about how union leaders of the New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association fudged the results of an endorsement vote by members to favor Will Barclay over Darrel Aubertine in a state Senate race. For good measure, Amaral also told you that the state's desire to have all businesses electronically file information is running head-on into the Amish community's tradition of not using electricity.
And Nancy Madsen also explained how the debate on wind power would be affected by Article X, which moves the power to approve projects away from local communities and to Albany.
What has made our newsroom's success more remarkable is that for the last two months we have been preparing for a major upgrade in software that will dramatically improve the way we produce our newspaper and website.
Reporters, photographers, editors and production staffs have been in training for weeks to make this conversion beginning Wednesday. Since May staff from our newspapers in Carthage, Lowville, Canton, Ogdensburg, Massena, Potsdam and Malone have been in Watertown as well. The conversion that is occurring here this week will take place at our other newspapers in the coming weeks.
While I would like to tell you that the improvements will be overwhelmingly obvious and wonderful, the truth is that the appearance of the paper is going to regress for a few days as we attempt to properly use all the new bells and whistles. It would be nice to shut down for two weeks, make changes and run tests to ensure everything is working correctly, but daily newspapers do not have that luxury.
When the process is completed for all of our papers this summer, we will be able to move information — stories, photos, advertising — among all of our products with high-speed efficiency. Our staffs will be able to upload stories and images to our websites from anywhere, not just our offices. We will be able to quickly produce locator maps and other key elements for our web stories. We are changing the naming conventions for stories so that they will be easier to find for readers doing Internet searches.
But right now we are sweating bullets over the massive number of changes we must master in the next day. Editors feel as if we've been flying a Piper Cub and are about to be handed the keys to a Boeing 777.
One day the sun will shine and the birds will sing. But right now we are buckling our seat belts because it is going to be a bumpy flight.

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