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Take your digital Observer everywhere you need to be

By Rick Thames
Rick Thames
Rick Thames leads The Observer's newsgathering operations and has worked as a journalist for 27 years.

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It’s easy for anyone to feel like a newcomer when it comes to new media.

And since today’s Charlotte Observer is as much about websites, smart phones and tablets as it is about a printed newspaper, we want to help you get the most out of the digital experience.

But first a bit about what hasn’t changed at the Observer, starting with its mission:

“We deliver what people need to discover and understand our region.”

Yes, that’s a lofty goal. But The Observer has been at it longer than anyone in the area. In fact, when the newspaper opened its doors in 1886, Charlotte was the state’s third-largest city (behind Wilmington and Raleigh). The Observer’s founders wanted to put Charlotte on the map. And they figured a newspaper could help tell their unfolding story.

Our city grew, and so did the Observer. Charlotte is now the biggest city in the Carolinas; the Observer, the most widely circulated newspaper (143,000 weekdays, 200,000 Sundays). Our newsroom at 600 S. Tryon St. fields a newsgathering force of more than 150 journalists and correspondents, the largest in either state.

But more significantly in this digital age, the Observer Publishing Company is the largest local media company in the Carolinas. Observer content reaches more than 1 million readers locally, in print and online at CharlotteObserver.com.

Many readers now go to the Observer several times a day, relying on the device that makes the most sense at that moment. At home or in the office, that could be in print or on a computer. On the go, it could be a phone. When there is a moment to kick back and catch up, a growing number of readers choose the tablet.

That’s why last year we created a single subscription good for all of those devices: computer, iPad, other web-enabled tablets, iPhone, Android phone and other web-enabled phones.

And, of course, we still offer an edition on paper, as we have for 127 years. In fact, surveys show that a single Sunday edition in print is seen by more than 600,000 readers, with one copy typically read by more than one individual.

Regardless of the ways you choose to read the Observer, the starting point is the same. Go to CharlotteObserver.com and click on the red-letter link at the top of the home page that says: “Plus Digital subscription sign-in.”

Existing print subscribers can click on the same link to activate their digital access.

And now, here are some new advantages to those various digital options:

Get news updates, 24/7: No need to wait for the next edition or newscast. Headlines on CharlotteObserver.com change as events unfold. You can also have the news delivered to you electronically. Simply sign up for email and text alerts on major breaking stories, plus headlines in news, business, features and sports. Pull down the “Stay Connected” tab at the top of the home page and click on “Get news alerts.”

Travel anywhere with the “print” Observer. Miss your printed paper when you travel? Next time, take it along. The e-Edition is a digital replica for computer and iPad (download the iPad app at iTunes). All the features of the printed paper, plus the content, are searchable and the stories are easily saved and emailed. You can pull up seven days of back issues.

Find lots of things to do. CharlotteObserver.com maintains the most complete listing of events in our region. Our Zvents calendar is searchable by city, date, activity (dining, movies, theater, festivals, music, sports and more), even by holiday. I found eight events already listed for Halloween. You can easily submit your own calendar items. Pull down the “Entertainment” tab on the home page and select “Events.”

Tap into valuable databases. Check the tax values on your street, or the salaries of public officials. Look for a summer camp for your child. Our Data Center on CharlotteObserver.com gets you into more than 20 databases.

Check on crime your neighborhood. Each week, we plot locations of crimes committed across Charlotte and post an interactive map on CharlotteObserver.com. Pull down the tab for “News” and click on “Crime.” This works well for computer and tablet.

Enjoy photo slideshows from around the world. Full-screen color photos are one of many reasons readers love tablets. Each day, our Observer Tablet Edition for iPad features hundreds of the best photos shot locally and worldwide. You can download the app for that edition at iTunes.

As you check out these features, you’ll come across many more. You may also have questions or suggestions. We’d love to hear them. Our staff listing on CharlotteObserver.com has the names, email addresses and phone numbers of dozens of people who work in our offices, both in news and advertising. Find it at the top of our homepage. Pull down the tab “Reader Services” and click on “Staff Listing.”

We are here to help you get the most of living here. Please stay in touch.

Reach Rick Thames at rthames@charlotteobserver.com, twitter.com/rthames and www.facebook.com/rthames.obs. Phone: 704-358-5001.
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Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

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