WHEN a private passenger jet overshot the runway at Lismore Airport and crashed into a field last month, thousands of people logged on to our website to follow the drama.
Our rolling coverage started late on a busy Friday afternoon in the middle of the NSW school holidays, but more than 8000 people went to our website to see what was happening.
Although the pilot and those onboard were shaken, no one was killed or seriously injured as the jet skidded to a halt metres from a boundary fence.
At any one time, hundreds of people were reading our updates online. Our stories were rapid fire with informative, live and in-depth coverage as the situation unfolded.
We had a reporter and photographer following the action at the scene, supplemented by a team back at the Northern Star newsroom, filing updates, video and photographs.
By interviewing eyewitnesses to the dramatic incident, our reporter was able to piece together a blow by blow description of what happened -- the pilot failed to gain the necessary speed to take off and crashed, causing the undercarriage to buckle and inflicting severe damage to the jet.
It was coverage that we are extremely proud of -- but it's just an example of what we do every day.
Having 16 editorial staff on the ground on the Northern Rivers is not cheap. But it's the only way to keep the community properly informed, tell your stories, and make sure you can find out what you need to know.
And now we're asking our readers to share a small proportion of the cost of bringing you this coverage.
From October 20, we will start a digital subscription model for northernstar.com.au, where some readers will be asked to pay for some of the things they read.
Let's be clear on one thing first: We know we're more than just a news source for the region, we're an integral part of the social fabric of the Northern Rivers. That's why no one will be blocked from going to the site and seeing crucial information if they don't want to pay.
Our subscription model will be a metered one, where everyone gets access to 10 free stories a month, before they are asked to pay.
As a reward to our most loyal readers, those who have subscribed to our newspaper and had it home delivered, every print subscriber will get full digital access for free.
For everyone else, the launch offers will be incredible.
For just $5 a week, we'll be offering people 6-day home delivery of the printed paper, plus full digital access. That's a 50% discount for the first three months.
And the added value component for new subscribers is incredible - free access to Sydney's Daily Telegraph, access to the Washington Post, and online streaming bonuses.
If, like a minority, you read digital exclusively, we'll be offering full access for just $3 a week for the first three months. And we'll throw in a home delivered Saturday paper to make it even more attractive.
And remember, anyone who doesn't want to pay will still get those 10 free stories a month.
Our investment in the online space is significant.
We have a new Community Engagement Editor, Samantha Elley, dedicated to helping you get your stories to our readers. We have invested in the equipment to make sure our people can be the best they can be.
And navigation of the website is even more functional thanks to a new home page rolled out recently.
Each section includes a hyperlink header which will take you to more content in that section.
There has been significant work to bolster our Local Life page, which focuses more on community news, as well as showcasing new photo galleries each day, including your submissions via Facebook and our popularly voted Photo of the Day.
You will also find local opinion pieces, readers' stories, weather, sport, entertainment and event listings.
It's all part of responding to reader feedback. Now we need your support to keep the momentum going.
I look forward to your feedback.