Messenger launches improved online experience

MANTI—The Sanpete Messenger has launched a brand-new website that will be home to all of its online content, old and new.

The site is designed to present the local coverage published weekly in the printed newspaper with stories organized by impact, category and timeliness in a user-friendly digital format.

“The sanpetemessenger.com upgrade is an opportunity for followers of the newspaper to engage more closely with Sanpete County news coverage,” says Ben Lasseter, Messenger staff writer. “Visitors will find news, photography and information on local topics in posts that will offer more frequent and convenient interaction than in the weekly print publication and former website.”

The news website is not to be confused with the Sanpete Messenger e-edition, which is a version of the newspaper as it appears in the weekly printed edition reproduced in PDF format. The e-edition launched over a year ago and is available for the price of a print subscription.

For the purpose of better visual organization on the news website, most links to articles show thumbnails that preview the primary photography associated with stories. Within posts, images appear larger, when compared to the former news website the company used.

Apart from story pages, photography from Messenger staff can be viewed, downloaded and ordered in small prints via photo galleries. The galleries show photos from recent news and sporting events, including some taken by staff but not selected for publication.

Visual enhancement is consistent throughout the site, when compared to the previous version.

On the home page, readers can find links to top stories in each coverage category, including news, opinion, sports, lifestyle, school and people notices.

“Our old website divided posts into categories, too,” Lasseter says. “But going forward, visitors will find all new and recent articles published on their corresponding category pages, compared to just five or fewer at a time.”

Besides Messenger articles, the home page shows links to subscription portals and special publications, such as the annual election and home and garden guides and local sports boosters. Found at the bottom are links to installments by columnists and in-depth projects covering long-term issues pervasive to Sanpete communities.

“Some of the work done by writers past and present, such as a 2018 deep dive into meth use in the county that won a statewide ‘best news series’ prize, is prominently featured and will remain free to access over time as an information resource to the community,” Lasseter says.

With the new website will come changes to how visitors are able to access it, namely in the form of a subscription-based paywall. Subscriptions cost $3 per month or $30 for a full year.

Many, but not all, articles will require a subscription to view after a trial of five free visits to pages with premium content. Some posts will remain free for anyone to view regardless of subscription status.

All non-editorial content, including the events calendar, photo galleries and links to informational pages will remain accessible to everyone, too. Special publications will not be restricted.

“The Sanpete News Company is a locally owned company that relies on support from advertisers, and from our readers, to gather the facts, and to provide accurate, unbiased news and intelligent opinion columns, to the people of Sanpete County,” says Suzanne Dean, publisher. “Your website subscription helps cover nearly $200,000 for annual salaries and expenses for our staff writers and correspondents.”

The paywall will go into effect in mid-April, after which non-subscribers will be limited in their access. A subscription to the printed Messenger or the e-edition does not cover the cost of unlimited access to the news website.

New users can subscribe by visiting and clicking through sanpetemessenger.com pages and waiting for a prompt to appear with instructions for how to register. They can also click the “subscribe” button on the top-left corner of any page.

After registering an account with an email address, password and payment, subscribers can visit any page or post without interruption, as long as they are logged in.

By investing in a more refined and complete digital presence, the Messenger aims to provide an easier-to-use and more versatile product to those who wish to consume news online.

“As the news industry changes and readers gravitate toward news-consumption options that are online, the Messenger wants to have options for adapting to what readers prefer,” Lasseter says. “The new site is easy to use for reading articles. If subscribers start telling us they want us to cover news topics in video or audio formats, the site gives us that option, too.”

Weekly publication of the print edition, which dates back over 125 years in Sanpete County and currently covers all of its municipalities, will continue as normal.

Messenger staff welcome feedback about users’ experiences with the updated sanpetemessenger.com. Please send comments to ben@sanpetemessenger.com.