S.C. set to be world
leader in news research
By Andy Brack
S.C. Statehouse Report
SEPT. 29, 2002 - - For a state that always seems to be last on
every list, South Carolina is poised to be a world leader in the
future of news dissemination.
November will bring the launch of Newsplex, a state-of-the-art
"newsroom of the future" based in Columbia. It will be
a research, training and education home for students and professionals
from around the world for experimentation with integrating new technologies
for news organizations.
Newsplex, which will be operated by the University of South Carolina
and located in facilities owned by South Carolina Education Television,
will be a place where news professionals can design and test innovative
ways to deliver news content through print, broadcast, wireless
and Internet media. As future information technologies continue
to converge, Newsplex will be a testing ground to help reporters
and editors learn how to take advantage of new gadgets and tools
to be more effective in delivering news.
In other words, the news buzzword of the future is "multimedia."
Newsplex will be the place for figuring out how to deliver news
through multiple media.
These days, news consumers get information from multiple sources
- - from newspapers and TV to a text message delivered online or
through a cell phone. In general, consumers simply are interested
in getting information. The mechanism through which they get information
isn't something they spend a lot of time pondering. But neither
have news organizations, long viewed as slow for thinking outside
the box about how to use various technologies to deliver information
through multiple platforms at the same time.
"A working newsroom is not the ideal place to experiment and
try to gain confidence in what are fundamentally new ways to do
news," said Kerry Northrup, a USC graduate who now is executive
director of the Ifra Center for Advanced News Operations.
Newsplex is the brainchild of Northrup and Ifra, a 2,000-member
global media technology association which is footing most of the
$2.5 million bill to design and develop the facility.
"We're making South Carolina and the University of South Carolina
in Columbia the focal point on a global level for all of the highest-level
research and thinking of improving news," he said.
Northrup said Newsplex is locating in South Carolina because it
offered the right support, infrastructure, people and climate. "All
of the factors just came together to make it an ideal location,"
By having the model news lab in Columbia, the state should reap
big economic development and public relations rewards. Newsplex
will, for example, expose leading international media professionals
to South Carolina's business climate and quality of life.
"It's going to put us on the map," said Reba Campbell,
vice president for communications and government relations at S.C.
Educational Television. "It will bring more international visitors
here. It's a good way to show off South Carolina."
Perhaps more importantly, Newsplex will also offer a chance for
USC students to get training in the world's leading experimental
newsroom. Because most college graduates generally remain in the
state in which they go to college, exposure to Newsplex will mean
South Carolina's future journalists will get cutting-edge training.
In turn, Newsplex-trained journalists will help raise the level
of journalism practiced at newspapers, television stations and radio
stations throughout the state.
And that means something even more important for the everyday Palmetto
State news consumer, according to former CNN reporter Charles Bierbauer.
"As we use it to create more sophisticated journalists embracing
all of the different media possibilities, the consumer will benefit
from getting a more comprehensive news product," said Bierbauer,
the new dean of USC's College of Mass Communications and Information
More information: www.newsplex.org
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