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Check out your new Web site: It’s your one and only shot to be a Sun god By ALAN BAUER

So, what’s new? Here at Elauwit Media, we have a number of new initiatives:

On Feb. 16, we will launch our eighth South Jersey weekly newspaper – The Washington Township Sun.

A month or so after that, we will launch 10 Sun Spots in South Jersey, in towns that we currently do not serve with a print product. They are: Collingswood, Haddon Township, Maple Shade, Cinnaminson, Delran, West Deptford, Deptford, Pennsauken, Burlington Township and Audubon/Audubon Park.

Shortly after that, we will launch clusters of Sun Spots in the San Francisco and Washington, D.C., areas, along with groups in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina and Florida.

So, what’s a Sun Spot? The simplest answer is that it’s the same Web site that you see when you visit this newspaper’s site. If you haven’t visited in a while, you should check it out. You’ll see a big change. The difference is that, at least for now, there is no accompanying print product.

Our Web sites, hence, our Sun Spots, are extensions of Elauwit Media’s business philosophy. We like to create new products and combinations of products. When we started our newspaper company in 2004, we blended the market penetration of shoppers with news content of traditional newspapers and delivered our papers through the mail. After two straight years on the list of South Jersey’s fastest-growing private companies, followed by two consecutive years on the national Inc. 5000 list, we think hit on the right mix.

We now are applying the same theory to the Internet. Today, some Web sites focus primarily on news. Or on games. Or on traffic. Or on real estate. Or on weather. Or on social media. You get the picture.

Sun Spots are designed to combine all of the aforementioned elements, and much more. Our Sun Spots capture the excitement and interaction of the Internet experience in one location tailored to everyone in a specific town.

Here’s what you can do at your Sun Spot:

  • Catch up on news from your town – from both Sun reporters and other publications.
  • Check out the latest Tweets about your town.
  • Become Ra (the Sun god) of your local Sun Spot and earn various badges along the way. You’ll also see the identity of the current Ra, and see how many points you need to knock him or her out of the spot. Then, when you become Ra, you can share your accomplishment with all of your friends – none of whom, I’ll bet, is a Sun god – on Facebook with the click of a button.
  • View videos and photos about your hometown from YouTube, Flickr, Picasa and more.
  • Receive the latest real estate, weather and traffic information.
  • Comment on local news stories – or start your own thread in the Forum section and talk about pretty much whatever you want with your friends and neighbors. It’s an ideal way for groups to communicate. For example, a service club can set meeting times, change schedules and discuss pertinent issues on its own Forum thread, thereby eliminating those annoying, lengthy, confusing and time-consuming e-mail chains. The same goes for sports teams that need to keep everyone in the loop about practice times, game cancellations and more. Just tell everyone in the club or on the team to check the thread every day for new posts.
  • Let your local officials know about things in town that just aren’t right through the See, Click, Fix application. Then, if they fail to check on your concerns or fix whatever needs to be fixed, you can vote them out of office. Or at least send them an angry e-mail.
  • Review your favorite restaurant or business.
  • Easily send your news and photos to your local Sun Web site and newspaper.

Sun Spots also are portals for two additional, major Elauwit Media initiatives:

At Itsjust10.com, you can buy and sell for just $10 – or just see what other people are willing to do for $10. You might be surprised.

MySundeal.com offers terrific deals on local goods and services – so long as enough people sign up to participate. In other words, when you see a deal you want, buy it and tell your friends so that they can sign up, too, and make the deal go “live.”

Put all of this together, and we think we’ve hit on another solid mix of news and community interaction – only this time on the Internet, instead of on newsprint.

Around the office, we call this Sun Spot Version 1.0. We have a dozen or so upgrades on the list for Version 2.0, and even a few for Version 3.0. So stay tuned for even more improvements. As always, we welcome your feedback and ideas. Not as always, if you have any friends in the places I mentioned above, tell them to hold tight – we’ll be there soon.

Alan Bauer is the general manager and editor of Elauwit Media.

All News, NewsLindsey Johns