OPINION: Same reporting, different tools
Mar 26, 2012 (Reading Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
I don't consider myself a dinosaur in the newsroom. There are plenty of people who have been here longer.
But I've seen some remarkable changes in the technology we use here.
Maybe it's the recent hirings of some reporters who are closer to our kids' ages than our own that sends us back to nostalgic times.
Nowadays, reporters leave the office with a laptop and a digital camera.
We carried notebooks and a pen. Photographers had the cameras, which needed film.
If you listened to the veteran reporters, you took a pencil to a fire or outdoor assignment in cold weather.
Reason: Lead doesn't run when it gets wet, and it doesn't freeze when it's cold outside.
They also advised keeping boots and other cold-weather gear in your car trunk, just in case.
The laptops are equipped so reporters can file their stories remotely from pretty much anywhere.
When we filed a story remotely, it meant we had found a phone in the township building or had stopped at a pay phone along the road to dictate our story to another reporter in the office.
Cellphones? They were the stuff of futuristic movies.
Now, they're everywhere, And that's good and bad.
No one knows how to use a phone book anymore -- they just go online and look it up.
There are nearly 50 phone books, some from 2009-10 and many still in unopened plastic stacks, fittingly taking up space in our morgue, another relic of our pre-computer days.
The morgue -- or library, as others call it -- has file cabinets jammed with yellowed newspaper clippings that are alphabetized and cross-referenced under a scheme that only a handful of us understand.
And the Polk City Directory was a gold mine of information long before Google or MapQuest.
If you knew someone's address but not their name, you often could find it and his phone number in the cross-directory. If you wanted to call the guy next door to the fire, you'd check the street listing and there was his name, how long he had lived there and the all-important phone number.
The real secret was that unlisted phone numbers sometimes were listed there.
I was surprised to find -- when I went online, of course -- that the directories still are printed. But they've changed with the times, too, offering a CD or online access.
And so are we, exploring options for mobile apps, iPads and whatever technology is yet to come.
Contact Managing Editor Dave Mowery: 610-371-5011 or email@example.com.
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