Columns Could Ride on 'Digital Highway.' (Access to Newspaper Columns Via Home Computers Prime Topic of Discussion at National Society of Newspaper Columnists Convention)

By Astor, David | Editor & Publisher, July 24, 1993 | Go to article overview

Columns Could Ride on 'Digital Highway.' (Access to Newspaper Columns Via Home Computers Prime Topic of Discussion at National Society of Newspaper Columnists Convention)


Astor, David, Editor & Publisher


Accessing columns on home computer/TV screens is discussed at the NSNC convention in Portland, Ore.

THERE WAS DISCUSSION about everything from cutting-edge technology to over-the-edge readers at the recent National Society of Newspaper Columnists convention in Portland, Ore.

The NSNC technology session focused on the "digital highway" and what it might mean to newspapers and columnists.

Panelist Pam Edstrom, who directs the Microsoft account for the Waggener Edstrom public relations agency, explained that the "digital highway" will eventually link millions of homes into a two-way, interactive electronic system.

She said Americans will use "a TV set with the guts of a personal computer" to do things such as renew their driver's licenses, learn their Social Security status and find a new doctor without leaving the house. Consumers would receive a payment for accessing an advertisement, sports fans watching a baseball game could call up the lifetime statistics of the player at bat, and people interested in reading a column could display it on their screens.

"It's an interesting thing to think about," Edstrom told the NSNC audience. "Why not just charge 10 cents a column and broadcast it to everyone in the United States? You would be paid individually by people who read your column. You wouldn't necessarily need to be part of a newspaper."

"How can we survive earning 30 cents a year?" joked one audience member.

Edstrom, who has traveled extensively with billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates, said delivering columns via the "digital highway" would have other benefits. She mentioned that people calling up a column could also access the writer's past columns, biography, photo and more. In addition, said Edstrom, readers could give a columnist "immediate feedback,"

Texas City Sun news editor/columnist Cathy Gillentine, speaking from the audience, observed that this might be too much feedback. She noted that she already receives enough letters and calls to know what readers think of her writing and would have little time in a workday to deal with more reaction.

Portland-based artist and playwright Tad Savinar, another session panelist, agreed that technological developments can be a mixed bag.

"I embrace technology, but I wonder at what point the information we're given to absorb becomes overload," he commented. "There becomes very little time to think about what we're receiving because we're so busy receiving."

Savinar also noted that the "digital highway" could "create an even larger gap between the haves and have-nots."

Self-syndicated columnist William Colli'ns of Connecticut, speaking from the audience, said new technologies do not always change things as much as people might fear.

A third panelist, veteran ad agency executive Mark McNeely, said the fact that reading a newspaper is a more "comfortable" experience than looking at a computer screen means that newspapers are likely to survive competition from the "digital highway."

Indeed, he said newspapers should not blame new technologies for readership declines. "Newspapers say, |This is not really our fault; we're being eclipsed by the new technologies.' That's hogwash. Blandness is the problem."

McNeely said a major reason why he feels newspapers are bland is the "increasing corporatization and bureau-cratization" of the business.

The speaker did tell the NSNC audience that columns are one part of a newspaper he does not consider "boring."

"You're the exception," said Mc- Neely, who helped launch the successful Ford Taurus campaign when he was with Ogilvy & Mather. "Columnists are the Hong Kongs of the newspaper business - islands of acerbic commentary and pulsating life among a gray mass .... You provide the emotional context and connection to the world for your readers. The new technologies can't offer that .

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Columns Could Ride on 'Digital Highway.' (Access to Newspaper Columns Via Home Computers Prime Topic of Discussion at National Society of Newspaper Columnists Convention)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.