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Wired, tired, or mired?

On arriving in my office each morning, I check my overnight e-mail, including the usual bundle of provocative posts from my NCEW colleagues to the listserv. I read "Today's Papers," an e-mail summary of what's making news around the nation. I scan the overnight messages to Currents, my newspaper's online public discussion forum. I take at least a glance, and often a much more careful look, at what has popped up on a variety of news, politics, and culture Web sites: CNN Interactive, MSNBC, Slate, Salon, Suck (good for a laugh), The Seattle Times, The American Reporter.

At various times later during the day and throughout the week, I'll post our own editorials to our newspaper's Web site, and a few provocative questions (I hope) to the discussion forum; consult NCEW's home page for information resources for an editorial I'm writing; download cartoons and illustrations from a syndicate; surf over to the International Lyrics Server to find the words to a Beatles tune for a column I'm writing (my boss, fortunately, limits such citations to one per year); and, of course, delete a whole lot of spam.

Is the Internet changing the way we do our jobs? No doubt about it.

Far more difficult is the question: What are we, as opinion writers, going to do about it? As the views in this month's Masthead Symposium suggest, nobody's got a lock on the answer.

I'm not among those who would suggest that we just sit back and surrender the online world to the Matt Drudges, the teen chat rooms, and the Leonardo DiCaprio fan sites. On the other hand, I think all of those electronic endeavors have something to teach us about how and why the Internet works.

The fact is, newspaper editorial pages are the original interactive mass medium. We know how to engage readers, energize communities, inspire resolve, and push for solutions; we've been doing it for decades. We ought to be the first to seize this new technology, to exploit its advantages and compensate for its shortfalls. Instead, editorial staffs too often are among the last to get involved in new media, leaving that task to the newsroom or, worse yet, the marketing department.

Sure, the technology can be complicated and intimidating - but a lot less so than European unity, welfare reform, or the politics of the local sewer board. And those we tackle with relish. We're leaders, not followers. We certainly shouldn't be foot-draggers.

One of this journal's great strengths is the fact that it's a team effort. I'm beginning to discover, to my great delight, just how large and valuable that team really is.

In addition to NCEW's officers and the many contributors listed on the contents page, thanks go to the following members for their suggestions, criticisms, and encouragement during the birthing of this issue: Bob Barnard of Louisville, Ky.; Jim Boyd of the Minneapolis Star Tribune; Colleen Burns of The Post-Standard in Syracuse, N.Y.; Joann Byrd of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; Maura Casey of The Day in New London, Conn.; Paul Davies of the Corvallis Gazette-Times in Oregon; Fred Fiske of The Post-Standard in Syracuse; D. Michael Heywood of The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash.; Rick Horowitz of Milwaukee, Wis.; John Kanelis of the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas; Nancy Q. Keefe of Gannett Suburban Newspapers in White Plains, N.Y.; Mark Mathes of Tribune Media Services in Chicago; Susan Nielsen of The Seattle Times; Rose Simmons of the Asbury Park Press in New Jersey; and probably others whom I've neglected to include but whose contributions are nonetheless appreciated. Thanks also to Brian O'Hanlon of Media Information Tours of New York.

The Masthead would only benefit if the list were longer still. Please send your ideas and comments to me at, or give me a ring at 360/699-6006, ext. 2342. And welcome to the team.
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Title Annotation:newspaper publications' adoption of Internet technology
Author:Zuzel, Michael
Publication:The Masthead
Date:Jun 22, 1998
Previous Article:Why NCEW? Because of excellence.
Next Article:Opinion pages fail to stake their online claim.

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