Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Online news in 1981

All eight newspaper sites, publishing via dial up, were only weeks old at the time. It took over two hours to receive the full text of the paper over the phone line ... at $5 per hour!
"This is an experiment," says David Cole of the San Francisco Examiner. "We're trying to figure out what it's going to mean to us as editors and reporters and what it means to the home user." (No office users back then.)

"And we're not in it to make money."


"We're probably not going to lose a lot, but we aren't going to make much either."
An elderly 'home user' (1:35) - who must be 70 if he's a day - really gets it, though.

Says Mr Halloran, "I think it's the future of the type of interrogation the individual will give to the newspaper."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Working the night desk

Margaret Simons has been all over the Michael Backman incident at The Age this week. Her column in Crikey today discussing how the paper could publish a piece like that in error reminded me of the scene in The Thick Of It (Spinners & Losers episode) where the night desk at the Daily Mail is trying to follow Labour hacks' twists and turns in positioning a replacement for the recently departed PM.
Night Editor: You know our coverage tonight has either been wrong or guesswork. Which was wrong. So all we have now is a story shaped hole.
Angela: Seriously, your blood sugar's low and it makes you very irritable.
Night Editor: No. What makes me very irritable, Angela, is having no f*&*ing story and having to fill an entire newspaper with just f*&*ing prepositions.

(Yes, I know the examples are different, and the TV version of the night desk bears no resemblance to a real newsroom ...)