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Newsroom
Kerry Northrup
November 1999
NewsGear 2000 update
For more than 30
years, newspapers
revolution in newspaper production and in Ifra has launched its Advanced Journalist the appearance of most newspaper pages.
around the world
Technology project (AJT), now in its sec- have increasingly
“done little to help reporters write better newsrooms might work in the digital infor- been digitising edi-
stories," notes Tom Boyer, research editor for the Seattle Times, USA, in a recent arti- torial activities with
nologies for usefulness in this modern edi- cle in the American Journalism Review.
torial setting and assembles its best finds the introduction of
“More than two decades after the debut of into the NewsGear demonstration suite as a technologies such
the personal computer, many toiling at big, profitable newspapers . are still chroni- as electronic page
layouts, databased
‘dumb terminals' - dedicated word proces- photo archives,
plete, self-contained, mobile, multiple-me- getting to the web from PCs halfway across Macintosh com-
dia newsroom that fit into a standard-size the newsroom, or on their (personal Inter- puters for making
infographics, satel-
cially available hardware and software as- lite links to wire
services, electronic
pendability, NewsGear '98-'99 could enable tions in its work at newsrooms worldwide.
a reporter to operate almost independently picture desks, net-
at remote news scenes without losing inti- worked text editing
the journalist's desk. Major advancements and web publishing.
in lightweight laptops, digital video and ture, in communications tools, and in the audio recording devices, portable scanners and printers, wireless communications and could be a boon to the productivity and ca- networking, voice recognition, handwriting pabilities of reporters and editors if given a recognition, satellite positioning, browser- chance. In fact, many of these technologies are proving essential to position the tradi- tional newsroom for the 21st century news NewsGear designation to six new productsand technologies that either complementthe original suite or tackle other newsroomchallenges including the one Boyer identi-fied - lack of web and e-mail access for allreporters. removable media disks, a slick media filedispatch option.
that turns the Palm PDA into an effectivestory authoring solution.
digital camera, expanding access to qualitydigital photography.
The Newsgear 2000 kit: the mobile, multiple-media Portable e-Copier, allowing easy document kit for the journalist of the new millennium.
November 1999
Kerry Northrup
Newsroom
> InfoGear's iPhone, a vanguard of good news to IT managers and budget- upped itself by superseding the 7000CT and the post-PC era today of efficient Internet its 266MHz PII processor with the Portégé > Cartia's ThemeScape technology vest in learning how to use the new news- room gadgets - their training can have an processor and bigger screen) remains in the NewsGear the next year:
gy where there has been significant move- evaluation session. In the past year it has upgrade versus replacement
ment during the past year is in the realm of ultralight heavyweight laptop computers.
annual review session, Ifra was prepared to ticular newspaper's needs and priorities, dump all the equipment collected last year was selected in September 1998 as the core there are several other machines that could in favour of procuring the latest and great- of the original NewsGear suite, it was the be considered. These include the eMachines est that vendors had to offer this year. The only real contender. It was the first laptop ing electronic or digital can stay on the than 1 inch thick sporting a full Pentium II leading edge for too many calendar pages.
processor, a 12.1-inch active matrix screen, line that confusingly carries the same name discover, however, that everything selected media file handling, a full-size keyboard, a on every model. This latest edition checks slice architecture for adding or leaving be- hind peripherals in different news situa- inch thick, letting it barely qualify for a place had to offer 12 months later. The Hi- lightweight label. But it is a svelte news- tachi MPEG digital recorder is still an ex- sion room that would let it replace almost cellent choice for multimedia newsgather- any desktop machine of the time. Later it ing. Dragon System's NaturallySpeaking is was found that the 7000CT also offered di- from NewsGear consideration last year be- still among the most journalistically com- hancing its appropriateness for more than tions during the past 12 months is that the verting handwritten notes into digital text.
dustry, however, no vendor can claim to be vendors of speech-to-text software to come the only anything for long. Less than three out with Macintosh versions, filling a big 24-bit portable colour scanner powered by hole in the PowerBook's capabilities. Rep- its universal serial bus connection so that Expo in Lyons, France, with the Portégé on resentatives of Apple Europe credited last centre stage, at least three machines came though Storm itself has gone out of busi- to market that would have fared well in the ness). Nokia's Card Phone is still a top- AJT evaluation process. Even Toshiba one- ranked computer-telephony integration de-vice. DeLorme's Earthmate continues to beone of the smallest and easiest to use com-puter-compatible Global Positioning Satel-lite receivers. Digital Persona's U.are.U fin-gerprint reader still represents cutting edgebiometrics technology for access verifica-tion without passwords. NewsEngin con-tinues to hold a lead in browser interfacededitorial systems. And so on.
a complete equipment matrix of NewsGear'98-'99 or e-mail a request [email protected]) due to the demanding selection process Ifrauses for NewsGear equipment. Humility of-fers the observation that newsgatheringtechnology is not moving so quickly afterall as to negate a financial investment be-fore it can recoup itself. Aside from being Kerry Northrup, in Starship Enterprise regalia, presents future tools of the newsroom at IFRA99. Newsroom
Kerry Northrup
November 1999
appearing to still be in good shape, News- let-proof Palm operating system, this key- Gear 2000 was recast as an upgrade rather board-enabled package requires nearly zero than a replacement of the current hardware support from the IT department or harried newsroom editors, making it even more re-liable than the computer we used to call Four new clicks
for NewsGear 2000
duces four new “clicks” to Ifra's newsgath- Hewlett Packard’s small-sized CapShare e-copier. Drive. It is a portable storage drive in the away from selecting a digital still camera pensive high-end units marketed to profes- those on the Toshiba Portégé 7000 series, and then Clik! disks can be inserted in the produce images suitable for newspaper re- sponse to reviews of the original NewsGear duces a generation of relatively inexpen- package by some Ifra members who felt its sive and easy-to-use digital cameras with emphasis on wireless file transfer via GSM more than 2 million pixels in their imaging was too ambitious. They said there needed LandWare’s GoType! keyboard expands the capabilities to be a way for a remote reporter/photog- of 3Com’s Palm III personal digital assistant. newspaper reproduction needs. The Coolpix rapher to offload a number of large image or video files for physical transport back to board simply by flipping up the GoType!'s cameras, the Coolpix 950 also provides for serial plug. The PDA's screen is easily read- with PC slots since no software is required.
able and the nearly full-size keyboard is lens. The built in 3x Zoom-Nikkor lens is a and the 40MB disks are a mere $10 each.
portable solution for any remote reporter Coolpix also allows intimate professional- who needs to write a story. When finished, while its consumer-oriented roots mean it onto the Palm III for transmitting the story incorporates a host of intelligent automatic Computing family of personal digital assis- settings and image stabilisation features to tants. The GoType! was introduced to Ifra this year, a selection now made official in mobile phone adapters cost about $150.
cataloguing features and stores photos on only $80 ($10 more for a version compati- ble with the Palm V), and a newspaper can can then be inserted into a floppy disk or package last year. Many reviewers said it digitally enable its entire corps of stringers PC card adapter for transfer to a desktop or because it was not needed when the laptop was around, while away from the laptop it was too difficult to input text through its portable computer popular with journalists Graffiti gesture-recognition software.
November 1999
Kerry Northrup
Newsroom
print and electronic publishing many fold.
computer via a high-speed infrared link.
grade comes from the activation button of optical character recognition. And PDF is made for sending in the highly trained pro- perfect for incorporating into an editorial Copier. This is the new name for the inno- database for reference or for posting on a cialised high-end equipment on those criti- cal news stories and difficult shots that a previously called the CapShare 910 Infor- news organisation simply cannot afford to to-use tool supporting the expanding jour- miss. Last year in its initial review of work- note that, like the GoType! keyboard, the nalistic role of document source collection. flows for future newsrooms, the AJT work- ing group concluded that there would con- designation earlier this year when it first The Internet gap
journalists even as there is a trend towards now confirms its position in Ifra's journal- trying to outfit reporters for newsgathering by lack of access to email and the web. It is not far-reaching to say that these commu- ounces and is a slim 5.6-by-3-by-1.4 inch- across a document. Internally the CapShare nications channels are becoming as criti- es. With that size, quality and price mix, a stitches together the various swipes to cre- what reporter would like to try doing his ting 10 or 12 digital cameras on the street file. It can hold up to 50 pages at a time for the price of just one high-end unit and and can transfer those to a number of de- therefore increase its source of images for vices such as a smart phone, a printer or a papers are loath to bring the Internet to Newsroom
Kerry Northrup
November 1999
indicate both waiting voicemail and e-mail ThemeScape map indicates a topic or group broad but not very high plateau would in- dicate a group of somewhat but not closely related stories for which there is no great shows topics that are not dealt with very ously. In addition to the cost of the phone, much if at all in the news database.
with a variety of real news databases, visit The iPhone provides e-mail and web access – without 2000 upgrade is an Internet-based technol- and editors are under increasing pressure staff and networked sources, the AJT pro- provides an amazingly intuitive presenta- ject's scenario-building effort for future tion of the relationship among and distri- newsroom anticipates a need for tools such bution of news stories by showing a collec- to support Internet protocols and to allow tion of stories and other news material in for the necessary bandwidth. It certainly would raise security concerns and perhaps map of the current news wires and instant- necessitate implementation of a complicat- is like looking down on Earth from a satel- ly appreciate which are the hot stories and ed firewall system and proxy servers.
lite and being able to see all the mountains which are being covered with lower inten- show up quickly as a hill that suddenly ap- pears and then quickly grows into a white email client, Web browser and digital tele- the inclines into darkening shades of tan, trend early might get a jump on preparing valley will appear as a dark area snaking special handling for the story. Or she might recognise a good story that is not getting overall effect is almost three-dimensional look too much different from a fancy tele- understand how to differentiate hills and which one might expect Caller ID informa- ics his newspaper has published in the past tion or a phone call log to be displayed.
And indeed, the iPhone has all the features tent analysis tool and search engine that of a well-appointed telephone including a relates content through linguistic parsing.
interest material. Now an overlay appears Where it differentiates itself from the com- petition is in how it displays the results of tion's coverage for the same period. Some peaks are in the same places and are just as from under the front edge of the phone pro- vides the hint of something more. Inside is news stories and finding that a large num- some are not. It is thus instantly obvious ber of them pertain to certain specific top- any Internet service provider via a standard their attentions similarly or differently and high-volume, apparently high-interest top- tion made, the grayscale LCD touch-screen less coverage, fewer related news files, will ing the results of a reader survey so that it email from any typical POP e-mail server. It is quickly apparent where subscribers' in- can also be used to surf the Web, including Java-enabled sites and pages with multime- attention is concentrated. Perhaps a varia- dia content such as video and sound.
that are related to each other will appear news stories based on actual geographic lo- screen-corner message light that blinks to cation of the communities affected, intu- November 1999
Kerry Northrup
Newsroom
itively showing valleys of sparse coverage Ifra Centre for Advanced News Operations.
agers and journalists pull pieces to fit their The Cartia technology is fascinating.
made to individual newspapers in 12 coun- visions of Third Millennium news publish- The fact that a non-publishing, non-jour- tries and to large organisations such as the ing, to help make that future a reality.
nalistic company has applied it so effec- tively to news databases is eye-opening.
at IFRA99 adds to that growing collection During the next year, Ifra's AJT project will achieved its primary goal of sparking de- Cartia to investigate further applications of and newspapers. An expected percentageof observers react with concern or healthy NewsGear and the NewsGear logo are Response to NewsGear
scepticism about news reporters and editors registered trademarks of Ifra and the Ifra Centre for Advanced News Operations. All project was started as a direct response to in the 21st Century. Most are excited about other trademarks and product names men- expanding their newsgathering capabilities tioned in this article are the property of the fore interest in Ifra's NewsGear hardware tools that are reliable, effective and easy to Operations is a resource for innovation in editorial organisation and news technology. Comments on this article or a related topic suitcase of gadgets that newspapers buy as may be directed to Kerry Northrup via the most requested services provided by the a set and try to implement. It is a suitcase

Source: http://www.wan-ifra.org/system/files/field_ifra_mag_file/E_p30-35_nov.pdf

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