Publisher: 'Chronicle' offers new ways to serve you

The future is now for readers of The Augusta Chronicle -- bringing important and exciting changes to your newspaper.

The Chronicle enters the new year with a powerful commitment to expand our delivery of high-quality news and information in ways that are increasingly convenient for you.

WE HAVE LAUNCHED a new digital format for easy reading on the Apple iPad -- and will launch this service on other emerging tablet devices in the coming year.

You can turn the pages of the same edition that lands in your driveway just by swiping and touching the screen. Check out the "pluses" we've added by tapping stories, advertisements and photos.

Download the app from Apple's iTunes store and browse daily editions free for a limited time. Enjoy this trial period as we improve the app with your input. This spring, we will begin charging for the app.

Now, let's talk about our Web site for a minute.

In December we successfully test-launched a new digital subscription service on augustachronicle.com. Starting Monday, the trial period is over and much of what we call "premium content" will be available only via a paid subscription. Digital-only subscribers get unfettered access to our site for $6.95 per month. This subscription fee will include the iPad app as well. Current print subscribers pay a reduced rate of only $2.95 to add these services.

AS OUR EXECUTIVE EDITOR explained in a December column, these changes do not spell an end to free use of our digital products. Passers-by and casual readers still will have access to breaking news, video, photos and blogs. We also will allow all users access to 25 premium pages monthly as a sample.

We feel it's important and good business to offer ways to enjoy our works in progress and continue a model of public service. It's just not all free. Your subscription helps pay for the journalists and the services being provided, arming you with information that helps you save money and make decisions.

The iPad application combines the best of both worlds. It offers more of what we do at the touch of a finger: photo galleries, breaking news, active Internet links, videos and ways to share and engage. You can store past editions of The Chronicle for later reading at your convenience.

Fascinating opportunities for readers and local advertisers await in the iPad world we've created. Powerful and vivid ads with attached videos connect readers and advertisers in new ways. It's just amazing.

How, where and when you want to engage with the news is up to you. We expect many people will continue to enjoy the print edition in the traditional form for years to come. But increasingly, more are comfortable with a combination of digital and print -- or just digital -- for their news and advertising. Consequently, our business model has to change.

IF YOU HAVE AN iPad, please sample the new way to enjoy The Chronicle . Again, it will be free for a couple more months. We want and value your input. We promise to use that input to refine these new ventures to serve you better. I'll be reading this way, too, to keep up with you.

Your business means a great deal to us. We are committed to improving our customer service and being there for our readers, and the community at large. It is an honor and privilege to help lead one of this community's oldest trusts. It is our duty to ensure its future by adapting and changing.

As we begin our second 225 years of publishing, we expect to be available at the touch of a finger and ready to answer your call.

Thank you for reading us and for using our digital products, and of course for your loyalty and support during our transformation as a media company.

(The writer is publisher of The Augusta Chronicle, and chairman and chief executive officer of Morris Communications Co.)