Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NIE on Line

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

NIE on Line

Article excerpt

THE RALEIGH, N.C., News & Observer has come up with a new way to interest kids in the newspaper: Put 'em on line at school and add some fun.

The newspaper and a locally-based, long-distance phone company, BTI, created Nando Land, an interactive on-line information service offered for free to schools around the state. It gives students access to an abbreviated version of the newspaper, the Internet computer network and an imaginary town of their own in the computer realm called cyberspace.

"With Nando Land, st read tomorrow's headlines in the News & Observer, call up the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe, or search the World Book Encyclopedia with the touch of a button," said Frank Daniels ill, News & Observer executive editor.

Developed by the News & Observer's new media department, Nando Land allows students across the state to communicate with their peers around the world using bulletin boards on Internet and the Kidslink electronic mail service.

"This service opens the information highway to all students in the state, connecting them to the largest media center in the world," North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. said at a news conference announcing the service.

Locally, it provides access to the county library's book catalogue, major literary works, information on the state and reference material.

Additionally, multi-user domains (MUDs) on Internet let users create imaginary "virtual communities." On Nando Land, the MUD is called Metropolis, and it is a town whose characteristics students determine.

BTI president Pete Loftin said most state schools have computers but do not fully utilize information networks because of the hourly charges or the lack of software for students.

"We believe this project eliminates those barriers," he said.

Schools need basic Macintosh or IBM-compatible personal computers, modems, color monitors and of course phone service to get Nando Land. The newspaper and phone company are sharing the costs of development and of installing point-of-presence hookups so that schools around the state can dial local numbers, instead of long distance, to tap into the service.

The companies also donated Nando Land software to the state special education project and a statewide network of nonprofit groups.

Nando Land already has 3,000 kids on line at between nearly 40 schools, and it plans to add sound and video to the on-line version of the newspaper to create what could be the nation's first multimedia daily, said News & Observer new media director George Schlukbier, who cautioned that plans for multimedia are limited.

Beyond NIE

Though Nando Land involves the News & Observer's newspaper-in-education staff, which helps train teachers to use the program, it is not your typical NIE program.

Nando Land - the name is an adaptation of the newspaper's familiar nickname, N and O - is more than a hi-tech newspaper-in-education project, though it is that.

It is part of a unique, long-range strategy for engaging young people as News & Observer customers, on paper and on line.

Schlukbier says the News & Observer is taking the long view, a 10-year plan. With the much vaunted "information highway" still a decade or so away, it is investing in relationships with today's young people.

Since kids are already getting computer training in grammar school, the reasoning goes, "we should be there in the schools working with them," Schlukbier said.

The goal is: 10 years from now, when students turn from adolescents into young adults, they will have years of experience reading the News & Observer on Nando Land and "will take the newspaper wherever they go," Schlukbier said. …

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