North Central Internet News
Celebrates Its Third Anniversary


FTLComm - Tisdale - May 20, 2001
newspaper When we first set up the Ensign web site we gave it the name "newspaper" as we envisioned an electronic online newspaper that would tell us about ourselves. The first issue carried four news stories and we would move along day by day, week by week, and month by month never really considering that we would be here year after year.
content With a project like this one evolution is inevitable. The initial goal was provide readers and researchers with content about Saskatchewan, its people and what they do, how they cope and ultimately it was hoped that the stories and pictures would establish a presence that we could identify with and show to others.
Pictures The first and most obvious fact is that North Central Internet News is not and can never be a newspaper because it is published on the web. That one factor determines the nature of the content and though text can convey meaning and information the visitor to Ensign gets the most powerful impression from the pictures. Pictures have a language of their own and in the three years of Ensign we have both shown, but also done our bit to instruct, readers on how to read and see what is in a picture.
insight The second factor that has to be dealt with is that we do not want to present simply a plural and parallel kind of material to the printed paper based publications. The reader and visitor who comes to Ensign has time and interest enough to wait for the pictures to download, but expects more than a recitation of "what happened." From the outset it was decided to provide insight and controversial opinion that would fuel discussion and thought. Though I have made my contribution to the opinions and attitudes there have been others. Mario deSantis continues to provide us with unique and often controversial views of political and health care issues, but he has added a further dimension to the material by loading each article with resources and links that help us understand the issues from both his view point and from other angles as well.
Edwin Wallace, Carey Heilman and occasionally Jacob Zunti have come along with their views and impressions and given the reader a wider range of thoughts on many issues. Michael Townsend and Kevin McIntyre have given us adventure, insight into cultural diversity and widened our view of things.
All the while there have been pictures, the goal of the pictures has been to let you, where every you are, see Saskatchewan, or the topic at hand and appreciate it for its beauty and for increased understanding. Photographer and social commentator Gerald Crawford has provided the reader with his views of things with charm, wit and common good sense. The photographic nature of Ensign often moves it toward weather commentary but that is significant because this is farm country and the weather is virtually everything.
participation One of the things that has been a powerful part of Ensign and could be even more important is the participation of readers in the material. Wherever possible correspondence from readers is presented for all and this participation has driven both interest and provided direction for the publication.
evolve Today marks the fiftieth edition of Ensign's sister publication, Saskatchewan News. This provincial counterpart is due to expand and growth with regular reports and pictures from throughout the province but up until now has relied upon material borrowed from Ensign. This does not mean that Ensign itself will not continue to evolve as time passes. This past year the addition of the bottom of the page picture of the day, the re-establishment of the daily tips and Mr. Crawford's regular contributions have been important upgrades. In the coming year it is hard to predict the direction we will go.
technology Two trends are in the works for Ensign, the greater use of "Flash" media on web sites and the use of databases to provide the daily updates. However, that does not mean other things will not come along that will give a lift to this daily web site. We have tried sound in the past and that will happen again and we will continue to have about one QuickTime VR panorama a week but as technology advances we hope to have more streamed video on line and a part of Ensign stories.
feedback To make Ensign a success it only needs one thing, the support of its readership, you make it happen, your feedback determines its direction and your messages of encouragement and support give each of us the needed push to go on and on.


Timothy W. Shire
North Central Internet News and Saskatchewan News