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Newsletter, a New LDS.org Tool Now in Beta Print E-mail
Written by Tom Johnson   
Sunday, 12 February 2012

July 27, 2012 update: Newsletter is now out of beta and in full production on LDS.org. You can view it from the LDS.org Tools menu. See the help information for current details about newsletter: https://ue.ldschurch.org/ldsapphelp/newsletter.

Newsletter, a new tool on LDS.org, is now open for beta testing. Newsletter provides an interactive site that wards and stakes can use to provide local news to members. The application replaces the “News and Information” feature on the classic local unit website and provides a digital alternative to the paper newsletters that organizations typically create.

You can access the Newsletter beta at beta.lds.org/member-news

Viewing Newsletter

Once set up, articles for Newsletter appear in one column of news on the Newsletter homepage, arranged in reverse chronological order. Members can view the news they want to see by selecting the category on the right. The selected category filters the news.

Newsletter

To view a single article, click the article’s title. You can send the article to members in your ward or stake by copying and inserting the URL into an e-mail message.

Administrators

When you sign in, Newsletter will be blank until an organization publishes news. Administrators for Newsletter include bishoprics, stake presidencies, clerks, executive secretaries, and website administrators. As needed, administrators can also add publishers (such as organization leaders) by calling or name. Organization leaders are set up as publishers by default.

Creating articles

If you’re an administrator, click the Create Article button to create a new article. In the article body, you can style the text with basic formatting, insert links, and add images. Newsletter automatically resizes the images you upload to optimal sizes for the Newsletter display.

Below the article, type a category for the news, such as Relief Society or Sunday School, and then press Enter. You can select as many categories for each article as you want, or even add your own.

Newsletter

When finished, click Submit. Longer articles will automatically be truncated with a Read More link after about 200 characters.

Featured articles

To create an article that always appears on top of the list of articles for a specific category, select the Featured article check box when writing an article. Designating an article as featured means the article always remains on top of the category (not on top of the homepage), regardless of newer articles that are published.

Featured articles are a good option for highlighting particularly important news, such as an upcoming conference, or a need for volunteers, or perhaps the stake president’s message.

Submitting feedback

To submit feedback about Newsletter, post your comments in the Newsletter sub-forum in the LDSTech Forum. Project leaders and other members will respond more abundantly to comments in the forum rather than to comments below this article.

Joining the Local Unit Application Beta Testing project

It's helpful for project leaders to periodically send instructions and announcements to the group of beta testers. To stay updated with messages from project leaders, join the Local Unit Application Beta Testing project. Project leaders can keep you updated about beta testing not only for Newsletter, but other local unit applications as well (such as Lesson Schedules). To join the Local Unit Application Beta Testing project:

  1. On LDSTech, click Projects on the top navigation bar.
  2. Sign in with your LDS Account.
  3. If you haven’t already signed the license agreement, you’ll be prompted to sign it.
  4. Click the Projects subtab.
  5. Scroll down and click the Local Unit Application Beta Testing project.
  6. Click Join.

Once the application becomes official, Newsletter will appear on the Tools menu (on LDS.org) along with other tools for wards and stakes, such as Calendar, Directory, and Maps.

Roadmap

In its first release, Newsletter’s functionality is simple. With simplicity do come some limitations, but the hope is that members both tech-savvy and not will find it easy to read and publish news.

As you can expect, later releases will provide more advanced functionality, such as the ability to save drafts, send broadcast notifications, add comments, and more.

Newsletter helps complete some of the last remaining tools needed to retire the classic local unit website.

 

Comments  

 
# Allen Blodgett 2012-02-14 17:20
Does the featured article mean we can use it for meeting times, eg sacrament mtg, Sunday school, priesthood/relief society?
 
 
# Tom Johnson 2012-02-14 17:22
I'm not sure what you mean, but featured articles just get pinned to the top of the list. It doesn't really have anything to do with meeting times. I suppose you could, though, write an article that explains the meeting times, and then set those as featured articles to appear at the top of that category's news.
 
 
# Jared Baumann 2012-02-20 13:41
If we begin beta testing this application, will only the beta tester get to see the entries or will our Ward be able to begin using this functionality?
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-02-21 15:09
Once you begin beta testing this application and create articles, your entire unit can see those articles and use the site.
 
 
# Samuel C. Escher 2012-02-20 15:50
What about non-members? Is a Log-In required to read news articles from certain categories? Is this also providing the possibility to use it as a "ward diary" to keep / create experiences from auxiliaries and activities? Can it be used together with other social media to post to friends in order make missionary work easier for members? is there some sort of archive with older posts? how accessible is it for members who are not so aquainted with computing and internet? how many times do you have to click on stuff to actually get the information you want? what languages are supported?...
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-02-21 15:16
This site is not available to non-members. Currently, only members assigned to a ward/district will have access. Additionally, only those members in a unit can see the articles for that unit.

There will be an archive available.

This site can be used however each unit needs. This could include a 'ward diary' or ward history, upcoming activities, informative articles, etc. The purpose of this site is to allow leaders to communicate and provide any necessary information to the members in their unit.

This site follows a typical blog approach. It will just be an aggregation of articles, so it should be easy for most individuals to to access and use.

The beta for this application will only be available only in english, but we are planning to release in other languages in the future.
 
 
# Shayla Tucker 2012-02-29 10:39
Quoting Mindie Sorenson:
Currently, only members assigned to a ward/district will have access.

Is there a chance that in the future we can allow access to certain non-members? This application was suggested to me as an alternative to setting up a Cub Scouts blog, but we have a few in our pack who are not members.
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-02-29 14:10
Quoting Shayla Tucker:
Quoting Mindie Sorenson:
Currently, only members assigned to a ward/district will have access.

Is there a chance that in the future we can allow access to certain non-members? This application was suggested to me as an alternative to setting up a Cub Scouts blog, but we have a few in our pack who are not members.


Currently there is no plan to allow non-members to have access to the Newsletter.
 
 
# Lynn Robinson 2012-02-23 13:55
Will it be possible to import documents as a file and insert them. I publish our Sunday bulletin/announcements as a PDF file so I can take it to church on a thumb drive for printing. It would be nice to be able to drop that PDF in each week for those who prefer electronics over paper.
 
 
# Tom Johnson 2012-02-25 22:20
Lynn, you can upload a newsletter PDF attachment to an article, but the intent of the Newsletter application is to format your newsletter content as articles assigned to various categories. The Newsletter team will soon incorporate the ability to print the newsletter articles. Then you could easily print it out at church.
 
 
# Karen Kristeen Bird 2012-02-25 20:18
If the stake or ward has set up a newsletter, should a new tool show up called "Newsletter"? If not, how would I access it?
 
 
# Tom Johnson 2012-02-25 22:21
Karen, because Newsletter is still in beta, it currently does not appear in the Tools menu. Eventually it will, once it is officially released. For now, just go to https://beta.lds.org/member-news to access Newsletter.
 
 
# Categories 2012-02-25 23:17
Are the categories just headings or do they provide some kind of security? For example, can we publish something just for bishops that no one else can see? Or can we create separate newsletters with different viewing rights? Trying to find a solution to need to share information to just the right people that is more secure than e-mail or file shares.
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-02-27 09:10
Quoting Categories:
Are the categories just headings or do they provide some kind of security? For example, can we publish something just for bishops that no one else can see? Or can we create separate newsletters with different viewing rights? Trying to find a solution to need to share information to just the right people that is more secure than e-mail or file shares.


There is currently not any way to publish articles for only certain individuals or groups. Once an article is published, any member of the unit can see that article. We will log this as an enhancement request, though.
 
 
# Aaron Glenn Weaver 2012-02-26 14:57
I like the start of this Newsletter Idea. I have put in our February 2012 Newsletter to see how it all works. I would like to eventually scan and PDF all the flyers on Bulletin board hanging on the wall at our ward but I notice a lot of items are from the church. I notice there is a Ward, Stake, but nothing from headquarters. I know we get mailed to us the information to put on the Bulletin board but can their be an area to get these from the church PDF and put in that area to review? It might save from mailing this information. Just I thought to see if this was brought up.
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-02-29 14:12
We have no plans to provide CHQ information in the Newsletter application, but we will review and discuss this enhancement request.
 
 
# McKay Barlow 2012-02-28 18:24
You may already have this planned but a nice feature will be to allow ward members to subscribe to certain categories so when an article with that category is published it sends an email to them and allows them to link back. This would help our ward and it will allow us to stop having so many email lists throughout the ward.
 
 
# Jayne 2012-02-29 10:33
Right now I serve as the Ward Historian. With my calling I also do a quarterly printed newsletter that would include activities that ward members participated in and other news about our members - such as graduations, babies born etc. Is this newsletter something that could replace the printed newsletter - costs of printing are somewhat of a concern.
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-02-29 14:13
Yes - the intent of the Newsletter application is to eventually replace the printed newsletter, or at least make it easier to aggregate the information for printing.
 
 
# Jeff Harmon 2012-03-02 09:41
Is the data added here while in beta ever going to be deleted when it moves to production?
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-03-02 09:57
Quoting Jeff Harmon:
Is the data added here while in beta ever going to be deleted when it moves to production?

No.
 
 
# David Sealey 2012-03-03 03:10
Will the tool allow members to subscribe by email?
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-03-05 10:52
Quoting David Sealey:
Will the tool allow members to subscribe by email?

Not currently, but we are considering this for a future release.
 
 
# Alan Heinze 2012-03-04 10:49
Can any member of the Ward publish to the "Newsletter" or just administrators?

Do the organizations submit to the administrator for publication?

I guess my question is this........who is responsible for the conyent, getting it posted, removing it, prioritizing it etc.?
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-03-05 10:52
Only those members that have been given publishing rights can publish to the Newsletter. You can read more about this here: https://tech.lds.org/wiki/Newsletter
 
 
# Emerik Ledesma Camacho 2012-03-06 10:50
it is a great tool but in the future we can make comments about a specific article?

because i think teh article can be complete with the opinion of other members without adding a diferent article

thanks excellent work
 
 
# Jacob B 2012-03-07 09:19
"You can send the article to members in your ward or stake by copying and inserting the URL into an e-mail message."

My ward's biggest problem is misuse of emails. The relief society president once sent an email meant for her councilors where they were discussing people for a calling, but accidentally sent it out to the entire ward. Too many people reply-all with personal information. Once a ward email was inappropriately forwarded to a local newspaper.

Part of the problem is that people don't understand email lists, and so they copy and paste a long list of everyone's emails into the 'To' field of the email. The Elders quorum is smart enough to set up an email list, but this usually results in getting two or three emails every time there is some big news for the ward.

This newsletter is nice, but it isn't solving the communication problem that my ward is having.
 
 
# Dustin Naud 2012-04-22 19:37
Are there plans to allow video uploads? Our Ward Historian has put together some great videos and would like to be able to share them with the ward. The online newsletter seems like a perfect place to do that. Please let me know.
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-04-23 10:09
Unfortunately, there are currently no plans to support video uploads. I will add this to the feature request list, though.

Mindie
 
 
# SmokyMtns 2012-05-16 22:10
Any ideas on how to communicate activities to non-members and visitors to our area (Live in the Smokies, so we get lots of visitors every year)? Since the old ward websites are being mothballed - not sure what our options are for getting the word out to non-members and visitors.
 
 
# Chris Evelo 2012-05-29 13:38
Can we add our own categories? Will a unit be limited to see only their unit and the Stake?
 
 
# Mindie Sorenson 2012-06-01 10:22
Yes, each unit can add their own categories. And individuals will only be able to see their own unit (ward or branch) and its parent (stake or district).
 

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