Last month, I reported in this space on a memo that ProJo publisher Howard Sutton sent to employees outlining some of the paper's major initiatives in the next year or so.

The big news, then, was that the ProJo was modifying its long-discussed plans to put important local stories behind a "pay wall" of some kind. The memo itself was vague on what the shift would entail. But newsroom sources said, then, that it appears the company will take a sort of half step: offering up brief versions of its stories online for free.

The idea is to sate online readers looking for a quick fix, while encouraging those interested in the fuller stories to pay for on-line access or, even better, buy the more lucrative paper-and-ink version of the ProJo.  

But the memo also noted that the paper has hired a local advertising agency and a local web design company to overhaul its graphics and web site. I've got a piece in this week's Phoenix that focuses on what needs to be done with

The site, once considered forward-looking, seems a bit stale these days - pallid and lacking much of the social-networking infrastructure that is so prominent elsewhere on the web.

And whatever the company's efforts to drive readers back to the paper version of the Journal, getting the web overhaul right will be key to the long-term health of the ProJo. What does getting it right mean? Well, you'll have to read my piece. Preferably in the paper version of the Phoenix.

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