The Cole Papers February 1994
Vol. 5, No. 2

BRYAN'S SONG
An editor's lament: Technology has improved production, not creativity

As you'll read in John Bryan's story, we were sitting around a hotel room in New Orleans last summer, trying to make some sense out of what we'd seen at NEXPO.

Looking up from my root beer, I realized that Bryan had been going on for about 20 minutes on the same topic: Boy, had all this whiz-bang technology made life easier for editors and production people, but what about the lifeblood of our industry, the writers?

And, as he relates, I said, "Write it." It took but a mere seven months to get it done.

But then, Bryan is a prototype of what he calls a "geek" and he's not a reporter -- and certainly not creative.

No, with a resume like his -- a master's degree in journalism (his thesis was on the then-nascent topic of computerized production), a stint as a utility player at the Rockford (Ill.) Register Star, and time on the news and metro desks at the Cincinnati Enquirer -- Bryan is the model of the modern systems editor: experienced, methodical, insightful and resourceful.

Geek, no; creative, yes. And as you'll read inside, he can put thoughts down on phosphorous pretty damn well, too.

Bryan's thesis is one to which I think we'll return on a frequent basis: We've spent the better part of 30 years learning how to get type out of a computer; now it's time to learn how to get creativity out of a computer.

Shortly after the root beer binge in New Orleans, I was wending my way west with but a mere stopover in Dallas keeping me from my home. Dialing up the message service, I found a call from Charles Cooper, the editor of the Tri-Valley Herald in Pleasanton, Calif.

Cooper gave me my first experience on a daily newspaper when he hired an awfully green kid as a part-timer on his copy desk at the San Francisco Examiner. As the chief copy editor, Cooper taught me a lot about writing and editing. We ended up working together for more than a decade.

Coop moved on and so did I. He was now in charge of newsroom production at the five titles (amongst them the Oakland Tribune) of the Alameda Newspaper Group, and wondered if I wanted to come over for a look-see at how they were handling pagination.

I complained of fatigue and other commitments, and postponed the visit.

It took me only six months to drive the 40 miles to the Herald's offices. The day I was there, Coop had personal business and wasn't in the office.

Nonetheless, I saw an awe-inspiring pagination operation. It was put together by another, unrelated Cooper -- Grady, in this case.

I had to ask the question of how many pages the ANG operation produces three or four times before I could get a good answer. Finally, Grady estimated the papers were doing about 2300 full-page negatives a week on a Harris-based pagination system.

That means that ANG is now the largest fully paginated operation in the country.

I think you'll find the ANG story fascinating.

Also inside is George Powell's report on MacWorld Expo, the huge annual West Coast gathering of the MacFaithful. Powell sees some welcome trends in Mac-based hardware and really amazing Mac software technology.

The ironic thing is that we'll probably find the computer components to enhance creativity in the generalized computer marketplace -- at MacWorld Expo, for example -- more readily than we'll find them at our own industry's trade shows.

Which is good news for us, but bad news for our suppliers.

-- David M. Cole

IN THE AGE OF THE GEEK, YOU ONLY WORRIED ABOUT PRODUCTION

Deep into The First NEXPO, after the 312th demo, and the 900th unctuous handshake from sales reps, the 42nd overpriced hot dog and the third pair of Dr. Scholl's shoe inserts, a gaggle of eight weary journalists was sprawled around the temporary Cole World Headquarters in a New Orleans hotel.

They were exhausted; so tired, in fact, that they started to speak honestly.

"Y'know," said the fat guy, "this is all bull."

"Yeah," said the others, each inserting his or her individual spin on the statement.

"No," the fat guy persisted, "all we're doing is talking about doing things faster and cheaper. What are we doing for creativity? What are we doing to make it easier to disseminate ideas? Nothing. Nada. Zip."

Said Cole, "Write it."

OK, since you asked. ...

HOW IT USED TO BE
For the purposes of this diatribe, we can draw a line at about the mid-'70s. Before then, scribes wrote on nearly indestructible typewriters, on paper, double-spaced.

Some of them weren't even that close to the written word. They used only phones: "Hello, Sweetheart, get me rewrite!" (Whereas at many places, that line would have been met with, "Shaddup! Get in here and write it yourself.")

There were minimal distractions between mind and story: You punched -- hard -- on the typewriter keys, and prose (occasionally brilliant) came out on the paper.

If you were chummy with Qwerty, you could go right to work.

Then dawned the Scanner Era. Reporters typed their stories on IBM Selectric typewriters, the desk "edited" using black and red felt-tipped pens, and the composing room ran it though a really dumb scanner. Somehow it got into the paper.

It was, in fact, a wondrous time -- for the increasing numbers of reporters who were touch typists. Selectrics are (were?) the meanest, cleanest, fastest way to get thoughts on paper. You can't out-type a Selectric -- when you're in sync with your machine, a story almost seems to write itself.

Call it a "writer's high."

The gilded age for creativity ended abruptly in the mid-1970s with the introduction of Our Friend the Computer. Suddenly, a writer had to sign on; it was like asking permission to go to the bathroom in third grade. Some even had to learn a password.

Then you had to create a slug for your story. From then on, so long as you diligently remembered to save your work, it was kind of like a typewriter -- but not enough like it to be an extension of the mind.

And back then, computers went down like a reclining car seat on Prom Night. Sometimes they went down and didn't come back up. Technicians shrugged, editors went nuts and reporters retyped their stories. Such a deal.

It went on like that until the Second Wave or the Third Wave or the Whatever of the early-to-mid-'80s, when everybody (except Atex sites) had finally worn out their lousy first computer systems and convinced the publishers (except Atex sites) to buy new ones.

This led to a confluence of economic, journalistic and cybernetic currents such as newspapering had never seen, and likely will not see again:

*Publishers approved costly new systems because there was no alternative available, and newspapers could still make out like a bandit in the ROI department, chiefly by diminishing the role of printers in their operations.

*A new level of sophistication in addressing users' needs was achieved. Mini and mainframe computers, all parties agreed, required a lot of custom programming. Some systems were customized at the factory; some were customizable, reprogrammable and tweakable on-site, as little or as much as you wanted. Site defining was part of each hefty sale -- it was how you knew you were getting your computer system.

*The newsroom had a new, sometimes unwelcome stake in how its computer system was to be set up and maintained. But who would represent the newsroom's interest in this customization?

Heh, heh, heh. Who do you think?

Out of the woodwork (often from the knots in the sports department wall) came a new breed of systems editors. Their predecessors had been content to just lash something together that would get the paper out.

The Class of '83 would make those puny efforts insignificant. They would demand the customization of everything that popped up on a screen. "Choice" became the buzzword of the day.

How many ways does your screen split? Do you have smart terminals or dumb terminals? What key allows you to move the bottom of a story? Are your data mirrored? Can you program alerts when a story about Leonid Brezhnev's bursitis moves on the wire?

At one Midwestern metro, they came up with a list of about 50 features that any self-respecting newspaper system ought to embody -- and they rated each supplier on its ability to run their gantlet.

Systems editors were in their glory; it was the pocket-protecting, beeper-carrying Age of the Geek. The geeks came from the newsroom, and they worked for the newsroom.

The geeks did all right, too. In the best of times, they customized keyboards, and set up baskets and queues that reflected the way newsrooms actually worked as opposed to how the supplier's people thought they worked. Some of them wrote fancy code that made typesetting even more all-encompassing.

And the folks on the road started to do OK by the geeks as well: First the Teleram, then the Texas Instruments Silent 700 and finally the Radio Shack Model 100 meant an end to dictating from a freezing phone booth.

Of course, it was replaced by transmission from a freezing phone booth and the story didn't always get there. But at least they had something on which to write. Progress is incremental, after all.

The technology had evolved to the point of facilitating, even spurring creativity for writers. Those terminals that tracked the Reagan presidency didn't feel like a Selectric, but for the first time you could edit as easily as you wrote, moving graphs around, switching sentences, adding emphasis.

If you accepted the notion that editing was as much a part of the creative process as writing, then your terminal felt very good indeed.

HOW IT IS
Ah, but then came the Fourth Wave (or was it the Tidal?). Comptrollers, publishers and systems geeks discovered the PC.

It started in the bureaus, where people habitually say they are treated like second-class citizens, an assertion the brass denies.

But at some papers the brass saw the cost of treating the outbackers like first-class citizens -- giving them the same terminals, accessing the same database as the First Team downtown -- and they hit the ceiling.

Oops. PCs.

Yes, it's expensive to run dedicated lines out to the bureaus, and buy those dedicated terminals to plug into the phone lines. Yes, PCs running XyWrite and ProComm software are a helluva lot cheaper than the dedicated method.

And yes, the geeks and their bosses who could show the enormous bang for the buck that comes with PC-equipped bureaus looked like dandy managers.

But their judgment of the PCs' value also implied a value judgment to the reporters and editors out in the field: The creativity of you people in the boondocks is not worth as much to us as the downtown variety.

In one of these bureaus, all the arm-around-the-shoulder handling from the home office is meaningless if you're working at a PC -- without E-mail, access to a library or the ability to read the wires.

Given that, people of equal talent in the newsroom and the 'burbs are almost automatically not going to create the same quality of work -- bad equipment clogs the pipeline from imagination to screen.

And now PCs are creeping into newsrooms.

Emboldened by the screwing of the bureaus, we said, "let's share the warmth," and the cry of Standard Platforms was heard in the land.

In theory, Standard Platforms make a ton of sense:

*Why pay $8000 a terminal for something you can get at Computerland for a fraction of that? (Be aware, though, of the new math: Windows PC = $2000. Board to hook to mainframe = $6000. Total = $8000. Moral: It's not nice to fool Mother Vendor.)

*Why pay for a proprietary terminal that can do only one thing? With a PC, you're free to load any damn thing you want.

*Why get sucked into maintenance agreements with the supplier when you can get Standard Platform parts down the street?

*Why buy a terminal you'll have to live with, unimproved, for up to a decade when you can move circuit boards and/or software to successively better machines?

So, if you're not seeing PCs in your newsroom where the proprietary terminals used to be, you soon will.

Is it an invasion? Yes.

Should we care? Definitely.

Who's to blame? Everybody -- corporations, suppliers, publishers, comptrollers, editors and geeks.

Is it a bad thing? Not necessarily.

Are we being inconsistent?

Oh, shut up.

WAY IT OUGHT TO BE
The fact is, as the Visigoths used to say, invasions can be positive things: They force change.

It's our job to make sure the change works to stimulate and facilitate creativity, not to hinder it. Back in the Geek Age, choice was all the rage. But it was limited choice, held in check by what the supplier could -- and would -- deliver.

Now the choices are global, from the array of shrink-wrapped boxes on the computer stores' shelves, to the zillions of options each and every program sprays on the screen.

Take PC software. Your first impulse will be to buy Microsoft Word or WordPerfect for your PCs or Macs. Don't do it, or at least not without thinking seriously about neutering it for journalistic use.

Those programs are for secretaries, executives and other Normal People. For writers, this software is muscle-bound -- beware of anything you can't use to toss off a simple note to your mom without cracking the manual first.

Word and WP for Windows both tend to be cluttered -- there are too many choices, too many ways to screw things up. With the mainstream Windows and Mac stuff, you get icons, windows, menus, buttons cluttering up the tube, and if you allow that, you're guilty of polluting the creative stream.

Reporters need to write on machines optimized for writing. Those were the proprietary terminals, and a few PC programs like XyWrite for DOS, which found wide laptop use when the original Model 100s got lost, stolen or drop-kicked across the sports department.

You don't have time to educate one reporter, much less a squadron, to what those things do. Don't even get started.

And for crying out loud, let's here and now resolve never to hook a mouse to a writing terminal unless the reporter specifically asks for it. We must make sure we can do all the things our proprietary terminals can do with just the cursor keys and function keys.

If they don't need it, don't put it on their desk.

On the other hand, wondrous packages can reside on these PCs, opening the doors to new creativity:

*Mail merge, which is a wonderful tool for getting "personalized" questionnaires and letters out to schools, candidates, organizations. There's great database potential there.

*Spreadsheets for business writers and database journalists.

*Databases for investigative reporters, or just simple source lists.

*Personal information managers for phone numbers and calendars.

*Telecommunications software for accessing on-line services.

We shouldn't eliminate all choices, but select from them. We need to know how to take advantage of nontraditional tools in our standard-platform software, without confusing the issue by having them on display.

And training -- that's a whole other rant. It's never been more important and we've never had less time to do it.

What's a geek to do? Here's a start:

*Don't rely on the manuals that come with the software. As with all manuals designed to be universally useful, they're usually universally impenetrable. Create your own.

*Similarly, teach to the task. If you need to put out broadsheet packages, don't train your colleagues to do newsletters.

*Develop a network of local experts you trust. Use the old medical school rule: Learn one, do one, teach one.

And what about the Macs? They've been getting a free ride here.

Fortunately, the Mac is an easier nut to crack -- it was never accepted as a standard office machine, so it was able to remain pure. Artists and layout people learned on it from the get-go; they never had to switch platforms as the word people did.

With Macs, we're talking Illustrator, Freehand, Quark XPress, Photoshop -- they all work as well for newspapers right out of the box as they do for job shops and art agencies.

With them, we got lucky; it'll end when we start trying to run the same software on both Mac and Windows platforms, but maybe the upcoming PowerPC will make the issue moot before we have to face it.

... AND ON INTO THE FUTURE
Just like that battery-powered bunny, technology keeps going and going and going.

Sooner or later, Apple or somebody will come up with a Newton that works quickly and well, and we'd be foolish not to pair it with cellular networks to make a new kind of newsroom management tool for reporters to carry with them.

Just think, in one palmful:

*Electronic mail with the bosses and colleagues who are scattered all over the circulation area.

*With a national service, interaction with reporters at other papers who may be working on a story similar to the one your reporter is working on.

*Access to assignments, with background information accessible via the electronic library and on-line services.

*An electronic notepad whose contents could be sent to the newsroom at a button-press.

*For photographers, access to their assignments, plus a notepad for captions -- and a database of lighting conditions and exposure values for every sports arena and playing field in the circulation area, as pioneered by the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

*With audio attachments, perhaps, on-scene reports will be sent by cellular network into your newspaper's audiotext system.

And that's just one piece of equipment which we're just beginning to learn about.

But as all these things come into the newsroom, they'll need to be adapted for the newsroom by a committed journalist whose job is to foster creativity. When all is said and done, we're calling here for the Third Age of the Geek (or is it the second?).

Whatever: We have shrink-wrap software running on standard platforms, but it's up to us to go beyond that.

We used to tweak systems, now we tweak menus. The end result, though, is the same (one more time): to facilitate creativity.

Lou Grant's offhanded admonition of "that's why they call it 'work' " just doesn't hack it anymore. Maybe it never did. Does that mean we're advocating the coddling of newspaper staffers?

Absolutely. The reason should be obvious: The vast majority of newspapers stand or fall on their local reports, and that responsibility is squarely on the reporters, photographers and artists in our newsrooms and bureaus.

If the brass does its job in hiring the best and brightest it can get, then we need to make it easy for them to be great. And of course, the better they do, the better our products -- newspapers, on-line services, audiotext, CD-ROM and all the rest -- can be.

Maybe then the geeks will get a little credit for having helped bring it about. Credit, maybe; time or help, no.

In the end, geeks have been invisible for so long most of them have given up hope of ever getting the recognition they're due. But God help them if this piece winds up on a bulletin board, because those creative types in the newsroom are also a bunch of egomaniacs.

If they find out we're concerned about their care and feeding, we'd never hear the end of it.

-- John Bryan

THE AGE OF BIG IRON

Suspicion marked the golden age of big iron.Editors have always prided themselves on exposing lies, distortions and half-truths for the public record. When they became systems editors, this character trait had a new, sitting-duck target.

The systems suppliers.

Their emissaries became new targets for dissection.

How often does the system go down?

Sales rep: "Never!"

How long does it take to get it back up?

Sales rep: "Instantly!"

Once satisfied that they had uncovered all the sales rep's tricks, newspapers advanced to The Purchase. To ensure that the publisher's money was about to be well spent, the supplier was forced to jump through one particularly silly hoop:

The Staging.

In this exercise, the hapless manufacturer was told, "We're not going to pay for this crap unless you plug it together at your factory and show us that it works."

Squads of geeks, from the newsroom and data processing (since renamed Management Information Services), would descend on the supplier's plant, which then was firmly ensconced within the borders of the continental United States.

The supplier would dutifully plug The System together and turn it on.

The newspaper people, still new to this stuff, would study the screens, hoping to hell they would be able to recognize trouble if something went wrong. Usually they couldn't, whether it was there or not, and so they'd authorize delivery.

Then the supplier would unplug everything, truck it to the newspaper and plug it back in again.

Same thing, bigger stakes -- this time it was The Installation, which wasn't nearly so wondrous a power trip and didn't involve travel to the exotic locales of Elmsford, Bedford, Sacramento, Melbourne and points in between.

Today, in the golden age of standard platforms, suspicion has given way.

It's been replaced by a shrug of resignation.

-- JB

ALAMEDA: FIVE NEWSPAPERS PAGINATE 2300 PAGES PER WEEK

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- The history of the Oakland Tribune has had some bizarre twists over the years:

*One publisher, a former U.S. senator, committed suicide.

*The next publisher -- the senator's son -- once attempted to assess the paper's value by impersonating a potential German investor. Donning full costume, makeup and a theatrical accent, he toured the plant, making disparaging remarks about current management -- in effect, criticizing himself.

*After its acquisition by Gannett Co., the corporation shoved the Tribune nameplate aside -- keeping it in the afternoon field -- while promoting a new morning nameplate, Eastbay Today.

*As part of a much larger deal (which fell through), Gannett sold the paper to its on-site publisher, making it the largest black-owned daily in the nation.

*During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Tribune staff rallied to provide excellent coverage of the devastation -- the collapsed I-880 freeway was less than two miles from the newsroom. The paper's earthquake photo report won the Pulitzer Prize.

So when the paper was put up for sale in 1992, the prospective owners weren't crazy when they suggested the only way they could produce it was to paginate not only the Tribune, but the four other daily titles it owned as well.

Which is how the Alameda Newspaper Group -- ANG -- has come to have the largest pagination operation in U.S. newspapers today.

By producing more than 2300 full-page negatives a week for the Tribune, the Alameda Times-Star, the Daily Review of Hayward, the Argus of Fremont and the Tri-Valley Herald of Pleasanton, ANG outdistances Phoenix Newspapers in Arizona, which has been doing around 1800 page negatives a week for the last few years.

"When we said we were going with the Oakland Tribune," said J. Allan Meath, who was then the head of ANG, "we were going to go from 160 pages a night to 280 pages a night -- coming out of a composing room that was built in the 1950s.

"We didn't have any choice," Meath said, but to paginate.

A LITTLE HISTORY
The road to full-page negatives certainly didn't start here in Pleasanton, where the company has one of its three press facilities and does all its pagination, but construction decisions that were made about this building in the mid-'80s certainly pointed in that direction.

The new building for the Tri-Valley Herald didn't have a composing room.

Even before ANG's parent, MediaNews, purchased the three papers that would become the core of ANG, there had been a common composing room at the Hayward location. The papers were produced on an Atex front-end system, with galley type, waxers and knives.

Meath, a longtime executive with Dow Jones, Ottaway and Park newspapers who came to MediaNews when ANG was born, said the Argus and the Herald were little more than bureaus for the Hayward operation, which had two press lines as well as composing.

But when the company decided to build a new press facility for the Herald -- which is in a fast-growing community -- it was assumed some pages would be made up electronically in Pleasanton.

So Meath went out to get some pagination equipment.

"We had in mind to buy a Harris system and upgrade what we were doing," said Meath. "We were running on the Indianapolis Speedway with a quarter-mile car. We had to upgrade our quality and speed to just stay in the race."

Harris? Why Harris?

"I think Harris' reputation has been outstanding in the business," Meath said. "When I was with Dow Jones/Ottaway, we had a lot of Harris equipment, visited their operation in Florida and we were just high on them -- they're quality people."

But buying the equipment and making it work are two different things. ANG went looking for a Harris expert and found one in Grady Cooper, an editor at the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times.

"Grady was a find because it's unique to find somebody who is in one occupation and does a fine job but when he throws his total interest into another side, he excels," said Meath.

"Grady is a good editor -- he's a competent newsman. But he just had a great love for computerization and how it works. He has an engineering mentality along with a good journalistic base," Meath said.

"They really did not know what they could possibly do," said Cooper, who is now ANG's director of systems management, about what he found when he came west. Cooper had worked with Harris pagination equipment at the Boca Raton (Fla.) News and the Daily News in Kingsport, Tenn., before going to Asheville.

"We started putting some ideas on paper and in January 1990 we came on-line with both the presses in this facility and pagination," said Cooper.

In the early days, the pagination efforts -- which ran on a Harris 8300 controller, a dozen Harris 8860 text-editing terminals, six Harris 8900 display ad and pagination terminals and a Monotype Graphics System for output -- were limited to the Herald's local news section. But when the economy took a nose-dive in late 1990 the company brought its entertainment section -- called CUE -- as well as all other group editing functions, except sports and wire desks, out to Pleasanton.

"We were doing about 400 to 500 pages a week on one 8300 controller," said Cooper.

In addition, the papers had a Howtek color separation system, as well as AP LeafDesks, for color imaging.

By mid-1991 that system was being stretched to its limits, but Cooper found two surplus 8300 controllers, five 8900 terminals "and a bunch more editing terminals" at the Daily Press in Newport News, Va. He bought them "for a song" and moved them into Pleasanton in October 1991. This allowed ANG to move the wire desk operation out to Pleasanton.

"Then we hit the maximum on the graphics system," said Cooper. The MGS had a limit of 3000 ads and graphics, Cooper said, "and a database of 1.2 gigabytes, which sounded large in those days, but really wasn't anything."

By careful management they kept the database at 2700 items.

Then ANG decided to buy the Oakland Tribune.

A NEW FRONT-END SYSTEM
"When we started looking at the numbers," said Cooper, "we knew we were just barely going to squeak by with the Tribune operation."

ANG executives knew they would have to put editorial and classified systems into the new offices of the Tribune.

"If we wanted to add any more classifiedterminals, Atex wanted a real large amount of money," said Cooper. "If we wanted to add any other pathway into Atex, it too was going to cost a lot of money."

So ANG went back to square one and got proposals for a new editorial front-end system from a variety of suppliers. "We had about six proposals on the table," he said, "all of which were very expensive."

Prices were in the $10,000-a-seat range and "we did not feel that was real," Cooper said. So they started looking at the parts in these proposals and discerned that "they were going out and putting together packages of XyWrite," the DOS-based word processor now supported by The Technology Group of Baltimore, Md.

"So we started looking at the components these people were using," Cooper said. "XyWrite was an important one; Novell for networking; basic off-the-shelf PC packages. And then fitting in all these other elements."

Cooper developed a plan that cost about $1500 per terminal "and that included all hardware, software, interfaces, networking and everything," he said.

ANG executives decided to change over all the editors and reporters in Pleasanton to this PC system as well as establish the new Tribune offices on the PC system. Then the Atex from Pleasanton could be moved to Oakland for use as a classified system. (Subsequently, the Atex classified systems were replaced by a Harris Cash system.)

"That was Phase 1 and 2 of what became a seven-phase PC plan," said Cooper. "That's basically what got us into the PC business."

Cooper bought a wire collection program from Canada's QuickWire Labs of Hamilton, Ont., and purchased a XyWrite "overlay" from Harris that provided the same copyfitting and headline fitting functions available in the proprietary 8860 terminals. He also bought a copy-estimating program so that reporters could get story lengths.

"So the PC system itself is an entirely off-the-shelf package, without any planning or involvement from any vendors," said Cooper. "Basically, we rejected all the big vendors and many smaller vendors."

Today, Cooper's PC-based system has about 180 terminals: all are '386 25 MHz machines. Fifty of them are editor-class terminals, which means they have 4mb of RAM and an internal hard drive; the remainder are considered reporter-class machines, with 2mb of RAM and only a floppy drive.

A NEW PAGINATION SYSTEM
To be honest, Cooper said, "biting off the Trib just absolutely stretched us to the limit" in terms of being able to get the papers out the door.

ANG published its first edition of the Oakland Tribune on Dec. 1, 1992. That day it also signed a contract with Harris for a new pagination system -- one that relies on Harris' new Sun SPARCstation-based controller, the XP-21.

Before signing with Harris, though, Cooper said he developed a five-year plan. "You want to try to anticipate something that wouldn't be outmoded and totally outdated in five years," he said. Two elements were essential: It would be an open platform, and there would be "a pathway into and out of this system for anything, anywhere."

The new system would use all the existing Harris pagination terminals: The original six would be upgraded to '486 50 MHz machines with black-and-white monitors, and the five bought from Newport News would be upgraded to '386 25 MHz computers with 21-inch color monitors. Eleven new '486 50 MHz machines with 21-inch color monitors would be purchased, all with 12mb of RAM.

The machines equipped with color monitors are now considered 2100 terminals; the black-and-white machines are still considered 8900 terminals.

"Our original proposal with Harris was just an upgrade of the 8300," said Cooper. "But the more I began to look at the XP-21, I thought we could take it all one step farther."

Not to mention that "sitting on the 8300 wasn't nearly as attractive as being with the XP-21 and the promise it had of at least being a viable platform five years from now," said Cooper.

Another factor in favor of the XP-21 was its use of PostScript as an output language. "PostScript seemed to be a necessary part of this," Cooper said of his five-year plan. He said that work being done by Melbourne, Fla.-based Harris and the Journal/Sentinel Co. in Milwaukee was "extremely encouraging."

For output devices, ANG went with Information International Inc. of Culver City, Calif. Triple-I would provide six Harlequin RIPs, a full-page plain-paper proofer, its new Output Manager software and four of the increasingly popular 3850 imagesetters. Four RIPs and two 3850s are in Pleasanton; two RIPs and two 3850s are at one of the two Hayward press facilities.

The various components of the new pagination system started arriving in January 1993 and Cooper and his team -- Rob Lindquist, who is now ANG's director of graphics and editorial PC operations, and Milt Beckler, who is in charge of systems maintenance -- began working them into the operation.

Though Lindquist -- who's a former photo chief at the Review -- had developed Macintosh- and PC-based image editing systems that use flatbed and Nikon 35mm scanners, ANG still uses the Howtek system for much of its color correction.

"Photographers in Oakland scan in their own shots," Lindquist said. "They adjust them for a good color balance and then put them on the server over here, where we use Howtek to get a good Cymk separation. Then the image is fed into the XP-21 and editors can place the pictures on the page easily."

Macintoshes are also in evidence in the Pleasanton art department and elsewhere around ANG.

Since the copy editors on the pagination desk had switched to PCs and since Cooper & Co. had spent a lot of effort in making the XP-21 look to users much the same as the 8300, the designers didn't really know to which system they were attached.

Cooper said "the biggest delay" was with Triple-I's Output Manager, which was delivered two months late and required a lot of work before it became stable.

"During May and June we convinced ourselves the quality was there," he said. "What we had to do then was to convince ourselves it would handle the volume we would need to put through it."

The volume is considerable, since ANG had designed an environment where everything is paginated -- including comics, classified and all advertising (most of which is done on Harris 2100 terminals).

The only exception: full-page ads delivered as camera-ready copy.

"If a full-page reflective copy ad comes in," said Cooper, "we don't make the effort to try to force it through the system; we just run it in the paper by shooting a negative."

THE NEW WORKFLOW
An organization as dependent upon one individual as ANG is upon Cooper might feel inclined to attempt to clone him.

Of course, ANG couldn't clone Grady, but it did get itself another Cooper -- in this case, Charles.

The former editor of MediaNews' Houston Post, Charles Cooper -- who prefers to be known as Coop and for clarity's sake that's what he'll be called here -- is listed as "assistant managing editor for production" on the mastheads of all five papers. He's also editor of the Herald and his office overlooks the vast second floor of the Pleasanton operation -- all of which is copy desk.

Coop came to ANG in late 1992 after editing stops at the Post, the Dallas Times-Herald, the San Francisco Examiner, Overseas Weekly and Stars and Stripes. He has worked as both a copy editor and as a Linotype operator.

Coop supervises the 40 copy editors and page designers who put together the news sections of each of the five titles every night.

As such, he has some views on the kinds of people needed to handle pagination. "I think we're going through another level of what we went through when we went to computers in the first place," Coop said. "Pencil editors -- depending upon their comfort levels with computers -- would become either more aggressive or more passive in their editing."

In an aside, he said computers probably created a lot of passive editors who would just "railroad" copy.

"We're now at the point where instead of laying it out on the pad, someone is laying it out on the design terminal," Coop said. "So much of the time, what you're doing is not layout or editing, it's composing: It's lining things up, drawing the boxes, picking percentages for the color screens and a lot of filler."

He said that in his case, he has his "five best editors who are probably as much an operator as an editor."

Coop said he'd like to see an operation where a pagination desk has "combinations of real editor-editors and editors who've become good at the design, pagination and mechanical part."

Short of that, Coop said, "The ideal is, a great news editor who develops pagination skills -- and you have enough people and a big enough desk to keep the level of editing standards up."

But Coop still thinks many of his editors have become operators. "My best editor out here on the floor is going to say she was a better editor before, and now she's a better operator," he said. "But that certainly doesn't diminish her value to the newspaper."

At ANG, each title has its own paginator, operator, designer, news editor -- whatever you want to call it. The designer works with two rimmers -- two copy editors -- and is in contact with the editor of the title.

"Each site editor certainly runs his own newspaper, just in a remote fashion," said Coop.

The designer handles Page 1, the jump, the local front and local inside pages. In the case of the Herald itself, there are two designers, because that paper produces three editions, one for each of the counties it serves.

The wire desk has two designers who work in a round-robin fashion filling up the wire pages for each of the five titles. The wire editor will put together a budget of five or six story slugs and then group them together on pages that either have a common ad stack (though not necessarily the same ads) or a similarly sized newshole.

The designer will place the five or six stories five times and then go back to the wire editor for the next page. The two designers repeat this process until all the pages are filled.

The sports desk operates similarly, while the business desk not only handles all its own copy, but its three-page stock section as well.

The CUE entertainment and features section is put together during the day on the same desks that are used at night by the title editors. Usually there are about 40 pages to clear every day -- "and they better have their pages off the floor by 4 o'clock," Coop said.

ANG followed the accepted industry practice of adding one editor for every five existing editors when ramping up for pagination. "It bore out to be pretty accurate," he said.

"Anything more can be used for quality control," said Coop. "Anything less than that decreases the quality and lowers the standards of what you can put out each night.

"Anything less than that, you're buying grief."


WHAT'S IT ALL MEAN?
Though the common production facility and the preponderance of common news copy makes the ANG operation unusual, without those factors the papers probably wouldn't be paginated.

The lessons learned by the Alameda Newspaper group include:

*The publisher must be willing to take risks.

"I stuck my neck out in a way," said Meath, who has recently been promoted to a group executive in charge of East Coast newspapers for MediaNews. "But I listened to what all the people said -- we worked together as a unit -- and said we'll sink or swim with the results. And I think the results are there."

*Training must be given a high priority.

"It's been my experience that training is the biggest battle I go through," said Grady Cooper. "Every penny we spend on training is well spent. Too often, we spend it in the wrong place and don't spend enough."

*A pagination project must have its champion, who has the respect of management -- and probably comes from the newsroom.

"I don't think [Grady] said to himself, 'Well, this is where I'll be successful. I'll follow this path,'" said Meath. "I don't think he had any choice. I think he was so excited and enamored with the idea of computerizing a newsroom it led him there."

*The newsroom must retain final control.

"Our slot person calls up a page," said Charles Cooper, "checks the headlines, checks the captions, checks the stories, but the last thing they do is to preview the ads. To make sure the ads not only all are on the page, but that none go outside the spaces or cause any problems. Then we hit the button.

"I think we always want to be the button-hitter," Coop said.

Harris Publishing Systems Corp., (407) 242-4220; Howtek Inc., (603) 882-5200; Information International Inc., (310) 390-8611; QuickWire Labs, (905) 526-3217; The Technology Group, (410) 576-2040.

-- dmc

A GARDEN OF NEWSPAPERS

PLEASANTON, Calif. -- The interlocking newspaper ownerships of MediaNews and Garden State Newspapers Inc. are difficult to work out, but suffice it to say that W. Dean Singleton is the cohesive force that holds it all together.

Singleton is the vice chairman and CEO of MediaNews and the managing partner of Garden State.

Within MediaNews, the Alameda Newspaper Group is a division of Garden State, whereas the Denver Post is a stand-alone corporation. Media General Inc., a longtime partner in Garden State, is in the process of selling a piece of Garden State back to Singleton, for which it will receive rights to purchase parts of the Post.

It is all complex.

MediaNews lists 17 affiliated newspapers, among them the Denver Post, the Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, the Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun-News, the York (Pa.) Dispatch and Sunday News, and the Houston Post.

In California, the Alameda Newspaper Group includes the original three titles that Singleton bought from longtime publisher Floyd Sparks in 1985:

*The Argus, a 33,000-circulation morning daily that serves the communities of Fremont and Newark, which are at the southern end of Alameda county, abutting San Jose and Santa Clara County.

*The Daily Review, a 44,000-circulation morning daily that serves Hayward, which is about in the center of the county.

*The Tri-Valley Herald, a 35,000-circulation morning daily that serves the rapidly growing community of Pleasanton. The paper's circulation area includes portions of communities in Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Alameda counties, hence the name.

In 1986, Singleton purchased the Alameda Times-Star, a 7,600-circulation, six-day morning daily, from local ownership. The city of Alameda is on an island just off Oakland.

On Dec. 1, 1992, Alameda Newspapers took possession of some assets of the Oakland Tribune, which had been owned for a decade by Robert Maynard. Maynard, the former associate editor of the Washington Post and publisher of the Tribune when it was owned by Gannett, had been in financial trouble for most of the time of his ownership and had resorted to a loan from the Freedom Forum to be able to continue to publish (see The Cole Papers, September 1991).

In mid-1992, Maynard's health was failing (he died of cancer less than a year later) and it was evident that he either had to shut down the paper or sell it. As an asset sale, Singleton bought only the paper's nameplate and customer lists.

The Sept. 30, 1993, Audit Bureau of Circulation numbers show the Tribune's circulation at 75,000 daily and 73,500 on Sunday. This is about a 25 percent drop from the year before, but Alameda Newspapers executives say that because of the commonality of the content of the five titles, they eliminated duplicate subscriptions.

-- dmc

A DECADE LATER AND MACINTOSH STILL PACKS 'EM IN AT TRADE SHOW

The Macintosh has packed a heap o' livin' into its 10 years. MacWorld Expo celebrated the 10th anniversary with the most humongous proliferation of MacMania yet.

Held in San Francisco's Moscone Center in the first week of the new year, the Expo drew more than 500 companies and more than 50,000 MacPhiles of all stripes -- individual, corporate, multimedia, publishing, even sewing.

To report on every facet of this four-day event would be to lose focus completely, which is what several individuals and companies thought had happened to the Expo as a whole.

This Expo was pretty scatter-shot. The program welcome began, "Dear Computer Professional," and covered virtually everything the Mac has done or could do in the last decade, from Apple's new Personal Digital Assistant -- the Newton -- to Macintoshes running an automated embroidery machine.

The corporate restructuring at the top levels of Apple also contributed to the air of chaos. Or perhaps it's just the inherent chaos of the new multimedia applications, which pull at your attention with text, full-motion video and audio.

It's one thing for everyone to have electronic publishing capabilities, but suddenly to add a recording studio and video editing lab -- well, for the average computer professional, this is an open invitation to lose focus.

One issue did generate some unity on the trade show floor ... hey, what about the upcoming PowerPC? The product of a joint project by Motorola, Apple and IBM, PowerPC is the next generation of microprocessors for Apple and IBM computers.

The PowerPC 601, scheduled to debut this spring, will be much faster than even the current Motorola 68040 processors, able to process many more instructions and have a wider path for data to flow into the processor.

With the base of millions of Macintosh users, compatibility and availability of PowerPC upgrades was Topic 1.

Apple itself had a huge set of rooms to itself, off the main floor, that were constantly busy. People waited in line to get in.

But reflecting the uncertainty of the Apple organization, when this correspondent asked to be given an attendance figure after the show was over (Apple had everyone entering run their show badges through a card reader), the answer was no. The information was proprietary, but one was welcome to make a guess.

Well, my guess is that with all the change in the air, Apple is one uptight organization, and will probably continue to be until the PowerPC ships and Newton matures.

Despite the turmoil, Apple did have some announcements of interest to Macintosh users, and made a good effort to demonstrate that developers were flocking to the new PowerPC standard.

It seems the vast majority of major players have decided to support PowerPC. A press release detailed 61 developers who were going to produce hardware and software products for the PowerPC environment, including publishing heavyweights Adobe, Agfa, Aldus, Microsoft, Oracle, Quark, Radius, Scitex and Storm Technology.

Apple also used the MacWorld show to demonstrate its late-breaking, but nonetheless sincere effort to turn its high-end Quadras into acceptable servers -- say, for a newsroom environment.

In the hardware arena, Apple boosted its Workgroup Server 95 with a bigger 2-gigabyte hard disk drive, which sports faster access times and the ability to link five of these together to provide 10 gigabytes of storage. A well-regarded hard disk maker, FWB Inc., will provide an internal disk array for fast throughput and fault-tolerant data needs.

Third-party providers will also offer uninterrupted power supply hardware and software for networks, to prevent data loss during power outages.

Software enhancements announced include a new version (3.1) of A/UX, the Apple version of the true multitasking operating system UNIX. This version can be optimized for either file-and-print or database uses, and can run Apple System 7.1 in parallel with UNIX applications.

For those with just AppleShare, AppleShare Pro (version 1.1) has been tuned to boost performance to more than five times that of a Quadra 950 running AppleShare 3. This is according to a press release.

The final entry in Apple's server software intro for the Expo was PowerShare Collaboration Servers. This software takes full advantage of Apple's System 7 Pro and PowerTalk, along with the developing Apple Open Collaboration Environment (Aoce) technology.

PowerTalk allows large numbers of users to exchange electronic mail and catalogs with digital signatures and built-in security for all messages. The software includes a mail server and a catalog server for electronic items like corporate directories and employee databases.

These servers are definitely fast, but no demo can conclusively show how they will perform in real-world situations.

Still, the price for any WorkGroup Server 95 configuration is less than a mid-size station wagon. The entry-level Server 95 configuration is $5409, for 16mb of RAM and a 230mb hard disk. The top price, with 48mb of RAM and a 1-gigabyte hard disk, is $10,159.

Remember 1983, when the ill-fated Lisa -- Apple's precursor to the Macintosh -- was selling for $9000 with a huge 10mb hard drive? Apple certainly has grown up quickly.

MORE MEMORY
But then, that's what the PC industry demands: speedier processors and more memory, for those memory-intensive applications like Photoshop.

MacWorld Expo did not disappoint.

The Expo's software star clearly was RAM Doubler from Connectix. It was ready to ship at the Expo, and there was a constant line of a dozen people at the Connectix booth waiting to buy RAM Doubler for the special show price of $49 ($79 list).

This software doubles the amount of RAM in your computer. It's a system extension that also puts a couple of invisible files in your system folder, but essentially it makes a computer think it has twice the memory than it in fact does.

RAM Doubler does not work with older Mac models without a Pmmu (Paged Memory Management Unit), i.e. the Plus, SE, Classic, PowerBook 100 or an original Mac II or LC. This is not virtual memory, and you can't be running System 7 virtual memory and RAM Doubler at the same time.

RAM Doubler is faster than virtual memory, doesn't use up nearly the hard disk space, and is inexpensive.

It would be a good idea to have some sort of extensions manager, because there are some minor incompatibilities with extensions (Disk Express II, the hard-disk optimizing extension, is one), but for those PowerBooks that came with just 4mb of memory, it's virtually a must-have.

PIXEL PERFECT
Even with doubled memory, one of the biggest problems at newspapers is processing digital images quickly.

New technology is out there, like Fits (see The Cole Papers, December 1993), which is amazingly fast but uses a proprietary pixel proxy format -- no real pixels, very fast processing, except at the end when all the changes are applied to the original file.

Now from a small California company called Working Software comes Imagician, a software and hardware package that runs on any Mac that can accept a NuBus board. The booth demo of this product was running on a Mac IIci.

Imagician has a British pedigree, having been developed by MacEurope Information Systems. What it does is pretty amazing:

Without any direct connection to Photoshop or other pixel editing programs, Imagician brings object-oriented processing with layer control to the world of pixels.

It does this in hardware with a huge memory cache (16 megabytes) on a NuBus board to handle large color images. Any image that needs even larger memory requirements will still fit into the 16mb cache using a technique the Imagician people call Pixel Placement Technology. The image is sampled to fit the cache, with no visible degradation to the image.

The software accompanying the board allows some amazingly fast transformations of objects. The usual standard file formats are supported, so pick a file, convert it to an image object, and you can free rotate, shear, color-balance, bend, clone, scale or mask -- more quickly than it takes to write about it.

Each ImageObject remains separate, but all can be merged; each maintains object independence in its own layer, and you can have up to 64 layers.

More sophisticated retouching or effects still have to be done in Photoshop, but the idea of a Photoshop plug-in or a more seamless interface between the two programs was not being ruled out by either the developers or Working Software, the distributor.

There is bit of a slowdown, depending on the speed of the Mac, when the ImageObject and its transformations are written back to disk as a TIFF, but the image manipulation is literally so fast, it's like that old joke, "Wanna see my fast draw? Wanna see it again?"

The price for the speed-demon packing is $3495.

A final oddity: The code which enables such speedy transformations comes from a military code-breaking program for analyzing text streams, according to the Imagician developers. Let's have more post-Cold War use of military technology like this!

SPOTLIGHT ON SOFTWARE
Software that could save some publications grief was much in evidence.

Dayna Communications -- better known for its networking and translation software -- showed ProFiles, a Finder that could be really useful in keeping track of files and projects at a newspaper. ProFiles allows you to find and save sets of related documents, although they may be on different hard disks or servers.

These documents contain the location essence of each part of a complex project, and can automatically open them all when the ProFiles document itself is opened. You can copy, reorder, duplicate or get information about any of these documents.

And, since ProFiles is "network-savvy," it will keep track of where things are, even if someone moves the originals. This software should do wonders to eliminate the "I couldn't find it" blues that make working on the Macintosh so frustrating to a casual user.

Another new piece of software that could prove useful is Open Sesame from Charles River Analytics Inc. This is the first learning agent for the Macintosh.

It's an extension in the system folder, and an application that takes 600K of memory and must stay running while the Mac is in use. Open Sesame observes how you use the computer and then offers to automate tasks it finds repetitious.

It's surprising how much it observes, including some things you didn't even realize. (At this writing, I have been using it for about two weeks.) Tell it no twice, and it won't bother you again.

Depending upon people's work habits, it could save minimal -- or enormous -- chunks of time. If several people use one computer, however, it might not be as useful. Another caveat: Don't run this on a System 7 Mac with only 4mb of memory.

Ever wish you could record your thoughts on a Macintosh and then type them at your leisure? I'm doing it right now by using MicMac while I'm writing, typing my comments back in my (nearly) exact words.

The sound file size does increase quickly when recording at 22 KHz (you can also record at 11 KHz), so you need a good-sized hard disk. However, it's a simple, easy-to-use product. The manual is the built-in help file, so kudos to Nirvana Research for making one fewer manual to hassle with.

MicMac works on all Macs with sound recording capability, and the sound files can be played on any Mac with sound playback ability. You do have to use the MicMac application.

This might be really handy for reporters with PowerBooks, or someone whose wrists felt a twinge and would be better off not typing.

Apple Computer Corp., (408) 996-1010; Charles River Analytics Inc., (617) 491-3474; Connectix Corp., (800) 950-5880; Dayna Communications, Inc., (800) 443-2962 ext. 812; MacEurope Information Systems, {011} (44) 0-603-7412222; Nirvana Research, (408) 459-9663; Working Software International, (408) 423-5696.

-- George Powell

Hellbox

BIG FRONT-END CONTRACT FOR EDS

One of the world's largest publishers has announced the signing of a three-year contract with one of the world's largest systems integrators to co-develop the next generation beyond an editorial front-end -- a news management system.

EDS Inc. of Dallas announced in mid-January that it had signed an agreement with Dow Jones & Co. Inc. of New York, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, for the joint development and implementation of an integrated news management system.

The new system, called the Global News Management System (Gnms), will replace Dow Jones' existing front-end editorial systems, which support the Wall Street Journal, its international editions and Barrons magazine.

Gnms is designed to make a major difference in the way Dow Jones reporters and editors manage information. The scope of the project covers the news-gathering and story development process up to the delivery of final text for typesetting.

EDS executives said the special features of this new system will include its ability to manage, track and report on multiple publications, editions and stories from anywhere in the global network.

It also will provide 24-hour digital scanning of all incoming news releases and faxes, enabling reporters to easily sift through a vast array of information from their own personal computers.

Allen Chapel, the EDS account manager on the Dow Jones project, declined to give the value of the contract, citing EDS policy.

Regarding software, Chapel said, "EDS will play the role of a classic vendor-independent systems integrator for the Gnms. Therefore, most final product selections will be made as part of EDS' formal methodology."

Chapel went on to say that no formal decisions had been made on hardware, but that "the primary direction is toward standard Intel '486-class or better PCs."

(In its quest for this contract, EDS retained The Cole Group in November 1991 to provide publishing technology expertise.

(In contracting with EDS, The Cole Group signed a nondisclosure agreement that prevents it from discussing -- or publishing in this newsletter -- specific information about the EDS role in the project, or the details of the Dow Jones contract, without the permission of both EDS and Dow Jones.

(The information in this story comes from press releases and information memos cleared by both EDS and Dow Jones.

(In late 1991, EDS did not have a sales force dedicated to the publishing industry and therefore met The Cole Group's requirement that its clients be independent of any supplier to the newspaper industry.

(Subsequently, EDS has established an organization devoted to providing publishers with technology assistance. In light of this development, The Cole Group elected to scale back its involvement with EDS.)

-- dmc

THIRD CONSULTANT JOINS COLE GROUP

We here at The Cole Group, a firm specializing in information about publishing technology, are happy to announce the addition of a third consultant, Tom Shorten.

He joins Mike Middlesworth and myself in working with publishers to help them better understand and implement publishing technology.

Shorten says he "made a relatively honest living" at the Los Angeles Times, where he was on the copy and news desks for five years before moving into the editorial systems group. For the next eight years he was responsible for composition and system-level programming as well as user training and documentation.

After his tenure at the Times, Shorten spent 2-1/2 years at System Integrators Inc. of Sacramento, where he was marketing manager for advanced products. For the last 18 months, Shorten has been an independent consultant.

In the years before joining the Times, Shorten said he made his "way up the journalism ladder" at the Lancaster (Pa.) Sunday News, the Columbia (Mo.) Missourian and the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram.

Shorten holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a bachelor's degree from Columbia University.

The Cole Group will benefit from Shorten's user training and documentation background, as well as his experience as a programmer. Shorten also will become a correspondent to The Cole Papers.

The Cole Group is completely independent. It will not work for suppliers who sell directly to publishers, nor does it sell equipment.

Recent Cole Group clients include Copley News Service, Datacom Systems Ltd. of New Zealand, EDS Inc., El Nuevo Dia (San Juan, P.R.), the Ogden (Utah) Examiner-Standard, San Diego (Calif.) Union-Tribune, Santa Barbara (Calif.) News-Press, Washington Post, and suppliers Intel Corp. and Sun Microsystems.

The Cole Group recently published the 150-page directory, Cole's Guide to Publishing Systems -- 1994.

-- dmc

BIT BUCKET ...

Knight Moves: A shuffle of jobs at Miami's Knight-Ridder Newspapers includes Pete Pitz moving up from veep for technology to veep for operations of the newspaper division. ... Then Larry Marbert moved into Pitz' old job; Marbert is the former production and operations chief at the Philadelphia Inquirer. ... Steve Dempsey takes on the additional responsibilities of publishing systems with his previous business systems duties, which moves him up to assistant veep of information systems at K-R. Dempsey used to run an SII 2130 at the Boulder (Colo.) Camera, so I guess he knows what he's doing (he also held "a variety of technology jobs" and was IS director at the San Jose Mercury News in the '80s). ... Also on the Knight front is Peggy Bair's promotion at the Information Design Lab in Boulder. She is now director of information and technology; before that she'd been applications manager. ...

World of Wires: At the Associated Press, three new jobs. ... Bill Dedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has been named to the newly created position of director of computer-assisted reporting. The news cooperative said Dedman will direct the training of AP reporters to use computers to gather and analyze information for enterprise and deadline reporting as well as work on such projects himself. Dedman won the Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting in 1989 for "The Color of Money," a series of articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on racial discrimination by lenders. ... Bill Weber has been appointed national sales manager for AP phototechnology. In addition to sales, the wire service said Weber would be involved in product planning and marketing strategies. Weber had been in marketing at Crosfield Design Systems and Agfa/Compugraphic. ... And in the P.R. department, Susan Welch has been named the director of corporate communications for the AP. Welch had been in marketing communications with MCI and Southern New England Telecommunications in the '80s and most recently was vice president of Welch Inc., a marketing communications firm in Ridgefield, Conn. ...

Howard's End: It's the end of Howard Finberg's amorphous title "news executive" at Phoenix Newspapers Inc. He's been named senior editor/information technology. Finberg's new job allows him to work with new media and new ventures, as well as keeping his finger in the daily operations by being responsible for text-editing and pagination systems. Before the "news executive" thing, Finberg had been AME for features and visuals at the Arizona Republic; before that, he held editing posts at the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times and Chicago Tribune. ... Designing Designers: New AME for photo and graphics at the Hartford (Conn.) Courant is Cheryl Magazine, who was formerly with -- a magazine (U.S. News and World Report). ... Did we forget to move James Dean from chief graphics roles at the Cincinnati Enquirer to the Waterbury (Conn.) Republican-American? Sorry about that. ... At the Dallas Morning News, Ed Kohorst has been named design editor; he'd been news art director for the last 6-1/2 years. ... At the Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, Paul Soutar moves to the picture desk and Sara Quinn takes his old job as art director. ...

Bye, Bye, Buyout: Taking the buyout at the San Francisco Chronicle (the paper cut one-sixth of its staff, with 59 going away) were assistant systems editor Dorine Iacono (formerly of the Herald-Tribune in Paris), artist Steve Outing and photographer Tom Levy. ...

New Links to PressLink: The new hires at PressLink, the on-line service for the publishing industry based in Reston, Va., include Dwayne Bowman, who had been with Apple Computer working on the AppleSearch product. Bowman will be project development engineer. ... And Valery Gilbert is PL's new sales associate. She'd been with Photonet as sales and marketing director. ...

Real Bits: New director of production at the United Methodist Reporter in Dallas is Sharon Foley, who'd been composition manager. ... Jim Joyce, who had been senior systems consultant at the Chicago Tribune, has left the paper. ... Mike Pearson, who'd been information systems director at the San Francisco Newspaper Agency, has left the Examiner and Chronicle operations group. ... Dan Shea, who'd been publishing operations manager at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., has been named executive editor at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. ... Charles Fertig, who'd been systems administrator for the News-Press in St. Joseph, Mo., has been named pre-press supervisor. ... Clark Lambert has been named VP of new technology at the Kansas City Star; he'd been director of data processing. ... Bob Hampton, formerly VP of information technology at the Newspaper Association of America, has left the organization. ...

Vendor Vicissitudes: New director of marketing operations at Advanced Technical Solutions Inc. of North Andover, Mass., is George Carvill; he'll handle the company's Osiris front-end systems products. Carvill had been with Atex. ... Filling the new post of vice president of professional development services at Scitex America Corp. of Bedford, Mass., is William Davison. The company said Davison would head a new organization that would "combine and refocus" the training and educational resources of the company. Davison, a journeyman stripper, most recently was director of strategic planning at Kodak EPS. ... System Integrators Inc. of Sacramento, Calif., has named Phil Davison sales representative for the U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes region; Davison had previously been with Atex, Insi, Harris, etc. The company also hired Jack Stewart as marketing communications project manager; previously he'd been in marketing and public relations. ... TV Data Technologies of Queensbury, N.Y., has announced five promotions -- Bill Callahan is now national sales director; Robyn diPhillips is now director of newspaper services; Kathy O'Brien is now manager of international and print publications; Frank Usher is now manager of technical support, and Andy Heinz is now manager of custom services. ...

Confabs: Don't forget the Interactive Newspapers '94 conference Feb. 14-16 in Tampa, Fla. Call the Kelsey Group at (609) 730-1000 for details. ... Conceppts '94, the folks who are attempting to popularize the term "prepublishing" (as opposed to "pre-press"), will be in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 16-19. Call (703) 434-2690 for the predetails. ... Also on Feb. 16 in Orlando is a half-day seminar on the new features of Quark XPress 3.3, sponsored by Quark Users International. (This seminar will also be held March 23 in Philadelphia and May 23 in Columbus, Ohio.) Call (603) 898-2822 for the quirks. ... The 1994 Marketing Conference on Interactive Telephones will be held Feb. 17-18 in Atlanta. Call (212) 599-6696 to see if you get an interactive message. ... Documation Conference '94, will be held Feb. 21-25 in Los Angeles. Call (703) 519-8193 for the documentation. ... The Linotype-Hell Fifth Annual User Group meeting will be held March 5-8 in Phoenix; call the group at (803) 556-9809 for more information. ... The Southern Newspaper Publishers Association meeting and trade show is March 6-8 in Atlanta; call Snpa at (404) 256-0444 for some Southern hospitality. ... The System/55-System/25 Users Group Inc. will hold its spring meeting March 6-9 in Sacramento. Call (415) 777-7894 for details. ... And the National Press Photographers Digital '94 conference will be March 9-12 in Miami. No details on the program yet, but between the hands-on seminars and the trade show, this conference is always a delight. Call (513) 761-3332 for more information. ... #

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