Why does the Chronicle have a website?

First: This is not a rhetor­i­cal question.

Second: Yes, I know it’s a lit­tle late in the game to be ask­ing this ques­tion, con­sid­er­ing that the Chronicle has had a web­site since at least 1996.

I ask the ques­tion out of gen­uine curios­ity. I don’t know what’s caus­ing it, but I have been start­ing to think more strate­gi­cally lately. I’m the Chronicle’s Web Editor, but I’m not sure I know exactly what the paper wants to do with its online presence.

You could argue that the Chronicle’s web­site is meant to inform the pub­lic, but if that’s all it was for, then why do we sell ads on it? Obviously, mak­ing money plays some part in the equa­tion. How big a part? Where is the line between news and ads? How much do we give away, and how much do we try to sell?

Why do we have a web­site? Is it sim­ply because every­body else has a web­site? Are we sim­ply fol­low­ing the fad, or do we have a pur­pose and goals we want to accom­plish online?

I’m not sure how many peo­ple are read­ing this blog yet, but I’m still post­ing this here in the hope of get­ting your thought­ful feed­back. So here’s my chal­lenge to you:

Write your own ver­sion of a “mis­sion state­ment” for the Chronicle’s web­site. If you don’t like that busi­ness jar­gon, sim­ply explain in a para­graph why the paper’s has a web­site. Keep in mind that we are both a source of news and a busi­ness that needs to jus­tify spend­ing money on things.

How would you strike a bal­ance here? Reply in the com­ments here or on my work blog.