Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Where Are All the Editors?' (Newsmen Advised to Become More Involved in Audiotex)

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Where Are All the Editors?' (Newsmen Advised to Become More Involved in Audiotex)

Article excerpt

MARK MATHES, EXECUTIVE editor of the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner, looked around the enormous room filled with attendees at an interactive media conference and asked: "Where are all the editors?"

Mathes, a panelist at the Newspapers & Telecommunications Opportunities gathering in San Francisco was referring to the fact that the overwhelming number of newspaper representatives were from classified, marketing or promotion.

"It's scary," Mathes commented. "Some of the people best equipped to target messages are not on board."

The reason, he continued, is that "They haven't been invited into the tent. Newspeople think it's [audiotex] a private club for marketing and advertising. Reporters think of it as extra work."

Mathes advised newspapers to bring editors into the telecommunications systems or "be left behind." He suggested that papers set clear guidelines on the distinction between news and advertising in terms of audiorex.

This idea worked at the Star-Banner during Florida's massive hurricane, Mathes recalled.

The paper, he said, quickly set up a weather hot line to help people reconnect with their families and provided regular updates during the next few days.

The system drew thousands of callers, according to Mathes. At the same time, he continued, the Miami Herald and other Florida papers were offering a similar service.

Mathes noted that the Star-Banner, a New York Times Co. daily, volunteered to be an audiotex test paper for the 31-newspaper group in 1990.

This year the company is installing its twentieth on-site voice system, Mathes reported.

The Times group's regional editors, he pointed out, have come up with tips on personalizing the newspapers through bulletin boards.

Editors can also contribute to audiorex with fax polls, letters to the editor, various opinion forums and breaking news stories, Mathes contended.

Looking further ahead, he said that newspapers can become still more personalized by having syndicates furnish actual voice recordings of Dear Abby and other top-ranked columnists.

Even stocks can be made more personal, Mathes argued. At the StarBanner, he said, three-fourths of a page normally devoted to stocks was reallocated to local business and sports news. The paper then published an investor's guide to spur interest in its stock-quote hot line. The 64-page guide, which is available on request, has conversion tables to find the dialing numbers for all publicly held stocks, Mathes said. …

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