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Capitol View

By Richard Borreca

Wednesday, September 22, 1999


Journalism will
move to Internet

HOW could you know as a college freshman that it would become an addiction? Back in 1967 there was no job description to warn me.

The job at the San Marcos Daily Record was to take an envelope filled with numbers, supermarket items and little pictures of turkeys, bunches of carrots and the like and follow the instructions to assemble it into a newspaper supermarket ad.

Way before computers came to this little Central Texas college town, the newspaper ads were put together with pots of paste and tiny brushes.

One afternoon, when no one else was in the office, someone from the college anthropology department called to let the paper know about a big find. A new burial ground for the largely ignored, somewhat mysterious, ancient Tejas Indian tribe had been found.

I took down the notes, wrote it up as a newspaper story, just like I learned in journalism class.

The editor, a somewhat distracted Texas good old boy, mumbled over the story and put it in the paper.

That night, helping with the press run, I stood between the bank of presses looking up as my story whizzed by in a blur.

I was hooked. An after-school college job became an addiction. Plans for other jobs dissolved, and my life suddenly began. All I wanted was the sensation of seeing my stories in print.

If the pay wasn't great, the glorious rush of the news made me feel rich enough.

Later, I'd get a chance to work for a television station and report the news on radio, but it just didn't work.

There's a feeling print reporters share, that we are let in this world like Peter Pan and never have to grow up, that we are, as Peggy Noonan called us, "adult delinquents."

Even now, staring down at the Star-Bulletin's finite future, we gather and giggle over our coffee cups and how we get paid for having so much fun.

All that said, I think there is more.

First, as we teach our kids to love to read, they are going to be reading it off the Internet, so we should be, too.

As our high schools and colleges teach the Internet, the thrill of seeing a lumbering press spew out tens of thousands of copies of a news story will be replaced by the self-satisfied nod as you click on your latest web page creation.

If before you would be so puffed up with pride to see the person sitting next to you at the stadium killing time by reading your column, now you will have to settle for knowing that what you say rides around the globe on microwaves and copper wires.

THOSE gloriously improbable Linotype machines that would melt lead on one side and pump out columns of type on the other became extinct before OSHA could nab them.

Learning to get your message out will mean being able to afford a simple Internet connection, instead of your own printing plant.

Politicians may not have to worry about getting into fights with those who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the ton, but instead consider carefully anyone who pays his phone bill on time.

Today's machines are electronic. Next year they may be virtual. But the words will still exist.

That same heady rush of seeing your work in crisp black and white may come through dancing electrons instead of the roar of a printing press, but the lure will continue.



Richard Borreca reports on Hawaii's politics every Wednesday.
He can be reached by e-mail at rborreca@pixi.com




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