Magazine article Editor & Publisher

New Tools of the Trade

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

New Tools of the Trade

Article excerpt

A TYPICAL NEXPO houses more than 300 vendors sprawling over 200,000 square feet, with plenty for everyone in newspapering -- except, usually, the reporters.

Reporters are generally ignored even when it comes to front-end systems. Show-floor demonstrations, not surprisingly, center more frequently around ad makeup than editorial functions - and even then the emphasis is on editing rather than writing.

Nexpo '98, however, was the exception that proved the rule. Several vendors offered a wide range of products aimed directly at reporters.

HAX Systems LLC was showing Story Processor, software that turns a newspaper reporter's laptop operating Windows 95 into another newsroom terminal. Story Processor adds all the default header information - such as basket, keyword, author, slug and time-stamp - that an individual reporter's newspaper uses.

"You can configure it for whatever system a paper has and it will automatically do the sizing, the H&J [hyphenation and justification] and will send the story to the proper file or, if you're using an [olden system, to the proper queue," said Charles Wright, CEO of Littleton, Colo.-based HAX.

Perhaps most important for a correspondent in the field is that it tells exactly how long a story will be, using parameters of an individual paper.

"That's the one thing reporters always want to know - how long is my story?" Wright said.

And instead of being forced to write and send in text-only mode, correspondents can set the same headers and codes the paper uses downtown.

A feature that may prove particularly useful to sports reporters - who work in a variety of light conditions - is a quick background-color changer.

HAX does have one marketing challenge, according to Wright." Reporters who use it really love it, but systems editors can have problems with it," he said. "It is flexible - I'll admit that."

In fact, though, the only real requirements for systems editors are to fill in default information and do a little site-mapping. The Story Processor's handbook comes with a short course on mapping.

Softek was showing something similar, with its new software, BabbleText, which allows reporters to send stories from a remote location to a front-end system without having to convert popular word processing programs such as Microsoft Word or Word Perfect into text-only mode. …

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