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2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

SCIway -- South Carolina Information Highway



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," he said.

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 Services.

More information: www.newsplex.org

-- 30 --

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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