In a major expansion of its on-line publishing activities, the Palo Alto Weekly this week launches Palo Alto Online, a site on the World Wide Web offering the Palo Alto area a focal point for local information and community dialogue.
Palo Alto Online provides residents and visitors information on almost every aspect of life on the Midpeninsula, from entertainment and restaurant information to maps of school boundaries, parks and bus routes.
The site, which can be found at http://www.PaloAltoOnline.com, also includes the complete editorial contents of the Palo Alto Weekly, classified ads and back issues to the beginning of 1994.
"Palo Alto Online takes our concept of what a community newspaper is all about and extends it to the World Wide Web," said Palo Alto Weekly publisher Bill Johnson.
"Our goal is to create a place that helps to link people and resources together, with the hope of building a stronger and healthier community," Johnson said. "The technological capabilities of the Web provide all kinds of tools for doing that."
In addition to Palo Alto Online's own content, it will feature electronic "links" to the Web sites of local nonprofit organizations and forums that allow people to comment and engage in a dialogue on local issues. Residents of individual neighborhoods will be able to post, review and respond to information about their immediate area. A "travel tips" forum invites local residents to share their unusual travel experiences.
The on-line forums, located in the "Community Dialogue" section of Palo Alto Online, currently include a forum for residents to express their views on the issue of home demolitions in Palo Alto.
At times when there is an important breaking news story, such as when a serial rapist was at large in the Palo Alto area, Palo Alto Online will be able to provide up-to-the-minute information.
Local businesses will be able to purchase links from Palo Alto Online to their own Web sites.
The Palo Alto Weekly became the first newspaper in the United States to publish on the Internet in January 1994, thanks to the resources of Palo Alto-based Internet Distribution Services, then a start-up Internet consulting firm.
The Weekly's electronic version, which until now has been limited to republishing the text of the printed newspaper, has seen steady growth in users. It has been given the highest "four-star" ranking from Magellan Internet Guide, a leading evaluator of Web sites.
Debbie Ford-Scriba, assistant to the publisher and promotions director, has been appointed to the new position of Palo Alto Online coordinator. Frank Bravo, computer systems administrator for the Weekly, is handling the technical implementation of the site.
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