Paper on doorstep, online, and on the air

August 01, 2009|By JAKE WOMER

Our culture seems enthralled by the idea of being on TV. Sometimes, people will do anything just to be on TV.

For the most part, newspaper reporters and editors are the opposite. We'll happily report the news, but if a camera is pointed at us, the image it is likely to capture is one of us quickly scrambling out of the way.

I could be lumped into that category -- zero interest in being on television.

Thankfully, a lot of Herald-Mail employees are bolder than I, and now you can catch them on TV -- HMTV to be exact.

Herald-Mail television is a new venture that you can see at the Valley Mall food court in Halfway, or at


It has some of us who are comfortable with paper, pen and keyboard moving into once-foreign territory.

Several reporters and editors are taking turns anchoring a video review of the local news each weekday morning. The anchor summarizes stories as photos fade in and out and introduces video clips that augment coverage.

That is what viewers can see online.

On a bank of four televisions in the center of the mall's food court, patrons can watch an even more detailed show than the one online. The HMTV show -- on a closed-circuit feed -- incorporates weather, entertainment news, upcoming events and commentary.

The commentary may even be yours.

The show includes selected comments called into Mail Call. Each week, several comments are used on HMTV. As the text appears on screen, the audience can listen to the actual call. Technology allows us to forward those messages so the audience can see and hear what is being said. (We choose the more even-keeled calls. Some callers are little too enraged for lunchtime listening.)

Mall viewers also can see the latest rant by Herald-Mail columnist Tim Rowland. If you are a fan of Tim's columns, it's worth checking out his video commentary. The video format suits his sense of humor.

If you want to know what there is to do in the Tri-State area, check out reporter Tiffany Arnold's roundup of the best bets in the Weekend Entertainment Guide.

A calendar of upcoming events also is incorporated into the show.

The weather segment is supplied by Antietam Cable.

The news segment, though, is the one that has Herald-Mail employees taking on new challenges. In addition to anchoring, longtime print editors and reporters are writing scripts for the show, shooting the video in The Herald-Mail's digital studio and editing the show -- all before lunchtime at the mall.

As another delivery platform, HMTV helps The Herald-Mail spread the news to a broader audience. Herald-Mail news can be found on your doorstep, in stores, at vending machines on the street, on your computer, on your mobile phone and on TV at the mall.

I never thought I would type that sentence, but there you have it -- and it's exciting.

Jake Womer is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7594, or by e-mail at

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