We at Noozhawk have long felt that the online realm represents the future of journalism, and the last three years certainly would bear that out in a big way.

Our web traffic for the first five months of 2014 is nearly triple what it was during the same period in 2011. We set traffic records in three of the first five months this year — the last three consecutively, actually — and recorded just shy of 1 million page views in May alone.

So while many local print publications are struggling just to stay afloat — with seemingly endless rounds of staff cutbacks, and news reports that remain in constant decline in both quantity and quality — Noozhawk is soaring in virtually every way.

We can now say without hesitation that Noozhawk has become one of the dominant local news sources in the greater Santa Barbara area.

Moreover, increasingly people in northern Santa Barbara County are looking to us for information about what’s happening in their communities.

Partly that’s because thousands of them work on the South Coast, and already are avid Noozhawk readers. But we also believe it’s a result of the high standards we strive to meet every day.

With that preamble, we are excited to announce the next step in the growth and evolution of Noozhawk — the addition of a full-time journalist based in Santa Maria, with responsibilities for the entire North County.

It’s a goal we’ve had for some time, and we now believe the time is right to pursue it.

Janene Scully

Janene Scully

We’re even more excited to be able to add one of the North County’s most capable and experienced journalists to our flock: Beginning Monday, Janene Scully will serve as North County editor for Noozhawk.

Her title is somewhat of a misnomer, because although Janene will have some traditional editing duties, like virtually all of us on the Noozhawk team, the bulk of her time will be spent reporting and writing on topics important to North County readers and those throughout the Noozhawk coverage area.

Simply put, Janene is a pro. She has spent the last 23 years working for the Santa Maria Times and its affiliated publications — where she and I toiled together for nearly 10 years. Suffice it to say, she knows the turf.

Janene is a proud graduate of Fresno State University, and we are confident that she will make us proud as she contributes to Noozhawk’s ongoing success story.

We encourage you to reach out to Janene; she can be contacted at jscully@noozhawk.com or 805.680.6123.

I also want to take a moment to acknowledge some other important changes at Noozhawk.

We previously announced that Noozhawk has forged a strategic partnership with the Mission & State journalism project, and has been hired by the Santa Barbara Foundation to manage this important experiment in producing in-depth stories that affect our community.

We’re excited about the possibilities for Mission & State, and already are hard at work relaunching it, working with senior writer Josh Molina and a cadre of local freelance writers.

To take on this major commitment, we needed to make some internal staff adjustments, and we’re equally proud to announce that Giana Magnoli, a longtime member of our news reporting team, has been promoted to the position of news editor.

Giana Magnoli

Giana will collaborate with managing editor Michelle Nelson and me; she’ll have day-to-day responsibility for guiding our local news report. Rest assured, however, she won’t go missing from the reporting ranks.

A graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Giana will continue to be a major part of our reporting team, which also includes Lara Cooper and Gina Potthoff, as well as our talented freelancers.

Feel free to contact Giana at gmagnoli@noozhawk.com or 408.209.9903.

As I said, this is an exciting time to be a Noozhawk — and to be part of the rapid growth and evolution of the online local news world.

That’s especially true for an old dog like me, who spent most of his 35-year career in newspapers — what my partner, Noozhawk founder Bill Macfadyen, often calls “fossil media.”

If nothing else, the last couple of years seem to prove that you can, indeed, teach an old dog new tricks.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at tbolton@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.