Okay, I’ve mentioned before how technologically challenged I am. I resisted switching from a manual typewriter to an electric and suffered from computer phobia for years. I used to cringe, beat my fists against my desk and utter improper phrases every time that early-generation Apple computer displayed a bomb icon. I would not have been surprised to see the thing disintegrate in front of my eyes.

It never did and I was always able to get it repaired without losing all my files. So I have adjusted. I still would be helpless without a good help desk, but I can’t imagine going back to my early days with Farm Press (1978 and I was 10 at the time), when we spent the last two or three days of the week pounding out stories, processing black and white photos and rushing to the post office late Friday afternoons to make certain we got copy to Clarksdale, Miss., by Monday morning to make deadline.

Now, it’s a click of a key on the computer.

I Google to locate chemical names, phone numbers for sources and the best routes to my next interview destinations.

But one of the most exciting changes we’ve made in the last few years is to improve on what we have always strived to provide: “Timely, Reliable Information for Southwest Agriculture.” That’s been our mantra since way before I joined the organization. And we’re doing it better now than we were 32 years ago.

Our Web sites have become vital parts of our information highway. I can write a story in the morning and have it up on our Web site within hours, if not minutes. Timeliness has never been so timely.

And come Sept. 1, we’ll unveil a new look and improved efficiency for all our Farm Press Web sites:

http://deltafarmpress.com

http://southeastfarmpress.com

http://southwestfarmpress.com

http://westernfarmpress.com

We’ve been working on the new sites for months, creating ways to make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for. I get perplexed with Web sites that take longer to find what I’m looking for than it did the author of the article I’m seeking to write the piece in the first place.

We’ll have a new content platform that gives us, Farm Press editors, better opportunities to post relevant, timely stories almost as they happen. We’ll be more graphically interesting, too.

I’m learning to use a video camera.

We’ll have a special video belt (look in the left column) where you can find the latest video posts as well as recent feature articles, blogs (yeah, we’re blogging, too) podcasts and web polls that give you an opportunity to let us know what you’re thinking.

We’ll alert you to Hot Topics in the upper right corner. You’ll find commentaries, weather forecasts, commodity quotes and how to take advantage of our Continuing Education courses.

Organization will be a key. Our 26 editors among the Farm Press Group and several sister publications (Beef, Corn and Soybean Digest, Farm Industry News, Hay and Forage Grower, and National Hog Farmer) put their heads together to come up with key words and phrases that occur frequently in our publications. Using those key agricultural terms, we’ve developed a system that helps readers navigate through our pages easily and quickly with fewer key strokes.

Our search capabilities are also better. The technology wizards who designed and built this new system made certain that search capabilities are more efficient and faster. Once you find the topic you’re looking for, a world of related information is available.

As I’ve said more than a few times, I’m not technologically savvy; barely competent, is more accurate, but I am a journalist, have been for all my career except for a brief and undistinguished six months as a banker, and the most satisfaction a journalist gets is providing his readers with important information, written so it’s interesting and understandable. And publishing it before anyone else can.

On Sept. 1, I have new tools to do that. And you have new opportunities to take advantage of the most “Timely, Reliable Information for Southwest Agriculture.”

email: rsmith@farmpress.com