Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Picture Desks East and West

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Picture Desks East and West

Article excerpt

Major metros moving to electronic picture handling, color photography


Washington Post and Los Angeles Times are moving into the electronic darkroom convinced that the future solutions to their problems will come from many systems working together.

The L.A. Times insisted on non-proprietary solutions, and Crosfield, which supplied the newspaper's first electronic picture desk in 1986, obliged. The Washington Post turned to National Digital Corp. for a PC-based system that can be integrated with the newspaper's text processing system. In Los Angeles, Terry Schwadron, assistant managing editor for graphics, who has spearheaded what the paper calls "the Editorial Color Project" said the goal was to remove the walls between the photo, art and prepress departments.

The Post's assistant managing editor for photography, Joseph W. Elbert II, said he did not want the electronic handling of pictures to become the bottleneck that airbrushing of photographs by art departments became in the 1950s and '60s. "I've taken an exact opposite point of view from most of my peers?' Elbert wants to provide the paper's news editors with a complete photo report rather than an edited version, and he foresees the time when reporters will be able to see the pictures that may Illustrate their stories on their own computer screens.

He also wants to take advantage of the many talented people in the newspaper's data processing department who, he said, "understand computers the way I understand photography?'

Some of them serve with a photo editor, a news desk editor, an art director and a photo librarian on what the Post calls "the Electronic Picture Desk Project?' PCs are favored over Macintoshes, according to Elbert, because of cost and because the newspaper is replacing an aging Raytheon text editing system with a PC network. The art department, however, is all Macs, he added.

The Post's systems, he said, would enable the newspaper's foreign bureaus to send pictures and text over phone lines at the same time.

NDC's NewsEvent software can run on either a PC or Mac platform and interface with the AP-Leaf picture desk, company president Frank Roche explained. He said that NDC, a private company, devised its first digital transmission system in 1988 for Newsweek, which is owned by the Washington Post Co.

Since then, the newsmagazines Time and U.S. News & World Report have become customers, along with newspapers, photo agencies, book publishers and the White House, Roche reported.

Elbert said the goal was to go to negative color for all pictures as part of the transition to the electronic picture desk. …

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