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With the 'Net, 'the paper' is now TV and radio, too

October 07, 2007|By JAKE WOMER

I wanted to be a newspaperman before I ever heard the term "journalist." At a young age, I formed a strong habit of reading print news. I never wanted to be on TV and radio, never even considered it. Those media are fine, but childhood ingrained in me that news is synonymous with newspaper.

I wanted to be a newspaperman, and I pursued that career. Now, that career is taking me into the territories of radio and TV, and it's exhilarating.

You could have made some money if you had made a bet with me that I would feel this way now.

In my youth, I routinely splayed the newspaper out on the floor and laid down to read it before school. I liked the richness of information - the sports, entertainment, crime news and entertainment. Classified ads were particularly fascinating. They showed me what things cost or what people were willing to get rid of.

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When I was 15 or so, I bought a slate pool table through the classifieds. Man, I loved that pool table, and I never forgot where I found it.

My mother often wondered why her 12-year-old son spent so much time flipping through the newspaper.

It was easy to gravitate toward print news at the time. The newspaper provided the only source of local information for my rural area in northwestern Pennsylvania. We had no thorough radio or TV coverage. The newspaper was it.

That has all changed. There are so many ways to get information. If I was growing up now, maybe I'd be spending all of that time I spent with the newspaper on the Internet instead.

I'm certainly focusing a lot of energy on that area as an adult. That reflects how my job and The Herald-Mail are changing. We're taking the information in the newspaper and presenting it in several ways.

If you look in today's newspaper, you'll see logos with the stories to indicate accompanying videos on our Web site, www.herald-mail.com. Other stories, other days, carry logos to indicate a related sound clip.

For editors and reporters here, it all amounts to expanding our skill sets and our minds. We want to continue to publish the best Herald-Mail we can, but we want to go further.

We want to break news now, and flesh out the story in tomorrow's paper. To that end, readers can sign up for e-alerts by going to our Web site and scrolling to the bottom of any Web page on the site. There is the following link: "Click here to register for your free Herald-Mail e-bulletins!"

When news breaks, The Herald-Mail sends out an alert to anyone who has signed up.

There are other changes. Reporters also carry video cameras these days. While they gather the facts for their stories, they also record video of what is going on. Editors watch the videos to approve them before they are posted to the Web site.

The same reporters might use sound clips from the videos for a podcast - a brief, recorded overview of what is in the newspaper and on the Web site.

Part of my job is to think about the sound and the video to fully present the story so that readers and Web users can get the news anyway they want it.

It's a new way of thinking, and this is really just the beginning.

Jake Womer is Lifestyle editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2340, or by e-mail at jakew@herald-mail.com

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