Sun launches new Web site


Published: Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, August 1, 2004 at 12:11 a.m.

What if your Gainesville Sun were a thousand pages instead the typical daily average of 40 to 50 pages?

In a way, that's what begins today as The Sun launches a new portal of almost infinite possibilities for news, entertainment and other information. And you won't need a forklift to bring it into the house.

The newspaper's Web site - formerly called GainesvilleSun.com - now is Gainesville.com. It's a subtle change in name, but it represents a dramatic "step beyond" being simply a newspaper site, said Tim Davis, new-media manager for The Gainesville Sun.

"With Gainesville.com," he said, "we're taking (our online presence) a step beyond to be that one place in the community where people can gather to get whatever information they want."

In addition to expanding the content of the online version of The Gainesville Sun, Davis said, the new "city portal" Web site opens a vast window of other information designed to help students and other people new to the area, visitors or longtime residents. He said it's like an almanac, city guidebook, community calendar, agency resource and daily newspaper all packaged into one voluminous site. Need to know where to call to get your utilities hooked up? Wondering what local bands are playing where? Want to know where to go swimming on a hot day, or hiking on a cool day?

"We've built a lot of databases, stacks and stacks of searchable information, into Gainesville.com," Davis said. "Essentially, what we have is this really awesome starting point of raw information for people to help make their lives better and more enjoyable."

Gainesville Sun Publisher Jim Doughton said the new Web site is part of a long-term strategy "to extend the news and information we are known for to the online world in a greater way. It's also a shift a bit to becoming more of a community portal."

He said Gainesville.com is part of an online trend toward city and regional portals that includes Boston.com and AccessAtlanta.com.

Davis said the new site focuses strongly on helping visitors and newcomers, particularly students, get the information they need to get around or settled here.

"Local music is a big deal in Gainesville, and we have a database of over 100 local bands," he said. "We also have downloadable MP3s where people can hear samples of a local band's music."

He and Doughton said the new site will be ever-evolving in order to keep its current links updated and to add new features, links and databases.

"It does take time to include everything people need to have," Doughton said.

Subscribers to the former GainesvilleSun.com don't have to do anything to access the new site, Davis said. They will be taken to Gainesville.com automatically even if they have the old site bookmarked.

Access to Gainesville.com is free, but new visitors to the site will be asked to register.

Bob Arndorfer can be reached at (352) 374-5042 or arndorb@ gvillesun.com.

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