New online portal for Aspen launched
Aspen Interactive Media, a division of Swift Newspapers, which owns The Aspen Times, launched a new community portal site on Monday called AspenAlive.com.
“We want to have a community portal that reflects the best that Aspen has to give,” said site publisher Cliff Thompson.
The site is the first of a number of sites using the “alive” name that Swift plans to introduce to serve the region between Aspen and Summit County. Future sites will include GlenwoodAlive.com, VailAlive.com, SummitAlive.com and ColoradoAlive.com.
Swift, based in Reno, Nev., owns a number of newspapers in western Colorado, including the Times, Snowmass Sun, Roaring Fork Sunday, Valley Journal, Glenwood Post-Independent, Vail Daily and Summit Daily News.
Swift purchased many of the papers from Morris Communications in November. As part of the deal, it also purchased Aspen Interactive Media (AIM), which produced the Aspen.com Web site. Not included as part of the deal was the Aspen.com address, which is still owned by Morris Communications.
AspenAlive.com effectively replaces the Aspen.com site as Aspen’s main portal for online users seeking information about the upper Roaring Fork Valley. Internet users are now being redirected from the Aspen.com address to AspenAlive.com.
On Monday, Swift also began redirecting users from the AspenTimes.com home page, which contains news from the daily and weekly editions of The Aspen Times, to AspenAlive.com.
Both The Aspen Times and Aspen.com sites receive about 40,000 visitors a month. Re-directing traffic from The Aspen Times home page to AspenAlive.com will help build traffic to the new site, according to Thompson.
However, the sudden switch from AspenTimes.com, which is a straightforward news site without banner advertising, to AspenAlive.com, a more complex site with advertising and a mix of tourism-related information, prompted several complaints from people who read The Aspen Times via the Internet.
Nick Coates, one of the founders of Coates, Reid and Waldron real estate and a longtime Aspen resident, wrote: “What have you guys done with your great Web site? I check it every day from Mexico and wherever in the world we happen to be and now we don’t get the cover photo and only about half the articles. Bad, bad news.”
Reader Ethan Alpert wrote: “I am a faithful online reader of The Aspen Times. I just wanted to let you know that I’m quite disappointed that when I enter http://www.aspentimes.com I’m forwarded to http://www.aspenalive.com. What’s the deal? I don’t want to book lodging, I just want to read The Aspen Times. Furthermore, today the aspenalive page has yesterday’s articles.”
In response, some readers have received a note from Steve Pope, who is responsible for Swift Newspapers’ Internet activities in the Rocky Mountain area.
“As you noticed we did install a new front page and greatly expanded content concerning the greater Aspen area,” Pope wrote. “Our goal is give all users of the site, including both local residents and visitors, the most comprehensive package of information possible.
“If you prefer not to see the new entry page or to access the expanded content, there is an easy way to bypass the new features. If you use the following URL it will take you to the same entry page you have been using for your Aspen Times online news: https://www.aspentimes.com/home.htm.
“The page this URL delivers you to is the same one you have been using as your entry page in the past. We have made no changes to this portion of the site so you should find the same functionality that you are used to.”
And for Aspen Times readers seeking to get back to the newspaper’s original home page, there is also a link under The Aspen Times logo on the AspenAlive.com home page.
When asked about day-old news being posted on the AspenAlive.com site, Thompson said, “This is a work in progress.”
Thompson also said that he could understand how some people might not like the additional click that is now required to get to the day’s news.
However, he said the switch was made to help build traffic on AspenAlive.com by redirecting users from AspenTimes.com.
Thompson said the goal was to increase the number of users each month on AspenAlive.com to 200,000.
Swift also plans to redirect other newspaper sites, such as VailDaily.com, to new “alive” sites throughout the region, such as VailAlive.com.
“The business model we are following, of having a comprehensive portal site, will be replicated throughout the mountains,” he said.
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