The Scoop

A blog about what's new and changing on

September 30, 2008
An invite to preview the new sacbee

If you've been reading about plans to redesign sacbee, we truly appreciate your interest and the feedback you have provided. Now we'd like to invite users to join us at The Bee to preview the new site prior to its launch, scheduled for Oct. 14, and tell us what you think.

User feedback sessions will be held at The Bee (on 21st and Q streets in Sacramento) on the following dates and times:

Monday, Oct. 6, noon - 1:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

If you are interested and available to attend, please e-mail with the following information:

Your name

e-mail address

best way to reach you during the day/contact information

Your preferred session date

Tell us if you are a print subscriber or not

And your age range: 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65 or older

We unfortunately may not be able to accommodate all requests to attend. We will randomly select participants, and if you are selected you will be contacted on or before Friday, Oct. 3.

Thank you again for your consideration and interest in sacbee.

September 21, 2008
Discussion forums coming to

When the new sacbee launches in mid-October, we'll have some new tools to communicate with readers. One of those tools will be reader discussion forums powered by Pluck, a provider of social media software.

Forums provide the opportunity to have live discussions about specific topics. Those discussions can involve Bee staff with readers; experts invited by The Bee to discuss a particular issue with readers; or of course readers having discussions with other readers.

 Any one can read the discussions, but to participate you have to register. Once registered, you can respond to a forum as well as start a new discussion topic under a forum if you so choose. Each time someone responds to a topic you started or a post you made, you automatically get an alert -- and the chance to respond or just read what someone said in response to what you posted.

Registration also allows users to use other Pluck tools on the site, such as starting your own blog on, or commenting on stories.

To get a feel for how Pluck forum tools work, check out our sister site at the Charlotte Observer.

Among the forums we are planning include discussions on news of the day; what's happening on state politics; health and fitness issues; the Kings; and a discussion and update on the conditions and pricing specials at local golf courses. We hope you'll enjoy these new tools and offer suggestions on how best to use them.


September 15, 2008
Improved search coming to
Since we started asking users for feedback about, many of you have pointed out that it can be difficult to search for content on the current site.
As we redesign the site and look for ways to improve the search, a funny thing happened: We realized we had an answer to improved search of Bee content in our back pocket. 
Many of our sister papers in the McClatchy Company use a company called Planet Discover to provide local search technology. If you type in a phrase or word under our current search, you might find the most recent stories that contain the phrase or word.
Using Planet Discover, not only does the search bring up current stories on the site, but it also shows you older stories, classified advertising, obituaries, videos and blogs, as well as a local directory of businesses that have the phrase or word in their name. For examples of what Planet Discover does, check out the search functions on our sister papers at the Miami Herald and the Anchorage Daily News.
Using Planet Discover for searches will also users of sacbee to find related content on our niche sites,, and With the new search ability, users will be able to find all Bee related and local content in one step.
 So when we launch the new sacbee in mid-October, you'll also have a new, more powerful search tool to easier find the content you are looking for.
September 7, 2008
We want your input

We're building a Web site that will allow users to easier navigate our site and find content of interest to them. As mentioned in an earlier post, we'll have more interactive tools for readers to share content and interact with Bee reporters and other readers in the region. But I think what will make the new sacbee much better is a new attitude we're developing in the newsroom.

The new attitude involves a willingness to actively seek out and listen to reader input and feedback to improve how we serve our readers, both online and in the paper. Part of this attitude change is driven by the Internet itself -- a recognition that readers have more choices than ever for news and information, and that the Internet offers editors the chance to get input even before we've made some of our decisions.

Editors have always sought to serve their readers, but the feedback editors got was often limited to readers reacting in letters or phone calls to decisions already made. Every couple years, a newspaper might conduct a poll of readers in its market to gauge what they were reading and how well they liked a particular section or columnist. But again, readers were asked to react to decisions editors had already made. No one ever asked readers to suggest a section they would like to read or a type of column they would like to read.

In the coming days, we'll be asking every fifth user who comes to sacbee if they would give us some feedback in an online poll. There will be several questions asking readers to click a box that best represents how they feel about the site or tell us why they came to sacbee. There will also be some questions that will allow readers to make suggestions about how we can better serve them online -- not just react to what we are doing.

After we launch the new sacbee, we will continue to ask users for feedback, partly to gauge if readers think the new sacbee is indeed an improvement. But also to keep improving how we serve our readers online.

Along those lines, as we are forced to make decisions on whether to retire some comics and add new ones, either because the comic creator is retiring or wants a hefty increase in what they charge us, we'll be asking readers to help us make decisions on which comics should run in The Bee. We'll use a new reader forum tool we'll have with the new site to preview some of the new comics and ask readers which of the new potential comics they like best. We may have readers rate all our current comics, and then look at those comics that received the fewest positive votes to compare against the new possible comics. The goal here is that readers will help choose which comics we publish and which we decide to no longer publish.

We're also hoping to let readers know in advance when one of our beat reporters or columnists plans to sit down with a newsmaker, and we'll ask you for any questions you would like to see addressed. That will no only allow readers to help shape the news, but to make our public officials more accountable to the communities they serve.

About The Scoop

The Scoop is a blog where the managers of talk about new initiatives and our plans for You can reach us by at the e-mail addresses below or you can comment on our postings.

Tom Negrete is managing editor of The Bee and oversees the daily work of journalists who produce news content for the newspaper and Negrete, who has been at The Bee since 1994, has served as assistant managing editor for business and sports, sports editor and assistant city editor. E-mail him at or reach him at (916) 321-1171.

Seán McMahon is The Bee's Director of Digital Media, overseeing the interactive efforts of the company. His e-mail is

Linda Gonzales is digital team leader for and has been an editor at The Bee since 1995. You can email her at

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