Star News Group
Manasquan, NJ | Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ
The Star News Group publishes two weekly newspapers, The Coast Star and The Ocean Star, with a combined paid circulation of approximately 18,000, as well as the bi-weekly, ad-supported Night & Day entertainment guide. These publications serve the greater Monmouth and Ocean County, NJ area.
I’ve been working with these folks since the mid-1990s, which makes it virtually impossible to document the full extent of the work I’ve performed for them. So I’ll focus on just the recent highlights here:
—Created three iterations of their NJPA award-winning Web site, with a fourth in the works. The site offers unique features like a fully-interactive classified ad placement form, extensive customer service options, Newspapers.com integration for access to archives of The Coast Star dating back to the 1890s, and sidebar elements that rotate through every print ad from the most recent issue to keep their advertisers happy.
—Coordinated the replacement of legacy circulation, single-copy sales, billing and ad tracking systems with custom-built FileMaker databases and cloud-based SAAS options optimized for weekly publications (as opposed to daily). This greatly increases efficiency while saving thousands in annual software and support costs.
—Transitioned editorial department from a QuarkXPress-based workflow, which required entire staff to learn and use Quark, to a GSuite/InDesign system that leverages Google Docs/Google Sheets for content creation, while reserving InDesign specifically for layout and production tasks. This enables real-time collaboration between writers and editors, makes onboarding new reporters dead simple, and has allowed the company to replace many pricey Mac desktops with <$200 Chromebooks.
—Replaced conventional file servers with NAS (network attached storage) devices, greatly simplifying setup and maintenance and providing unique options for “hot backup” of the primary server, the creation of a searchable browser-based photo archive and retrieval system, on-the-fly expansion of storage capacity with zero downtime, and an Apple Time Machine™ destination for centralized backup of local desktops.
—Leveraged the website’s RSS news feed to build an Alexa flash briefing skill for Monmouth & Ocean County, NJ headlines, and integrated this feed with the Apple News app. This creates multiple options for local readers for accessing the latest news via smartphones or the Amazon Echo & Echo Dot, and puts Star News Group on an equal footing with statewide and national daily news outlets on those devices.
706 LaReine Ave. #302 • Bradley Beach, NJ 07720