Missouri journalism school experiments with electronic news formatRonald Roach
With a format called EmPRINT, or Electronic Media Print, the nation's oldest journalism school is introducing newspaper-styled content that electronically transcends ink and paper and could revolutionize the look of newspapers in the future. The University of Missouri's daily newspaper, the Columbia Missourian, will experiment on 10 consecutive Sundays with stories and advertising laid out like a newspaper but readable with clarity on computer screens.
Unlike a newspaper, there is color photography throughout the electronic product, and no worries about botched printing runs or missed carrier delivery, according to officials. The digital format allows for links to deep layers of additional information, including an advertising index that keeps the reader no more than two clicks away from an advertiser's Web site. Readers may provide immediate feedback to editors, writers or advertisers.
And unlike a Web site, no scrolling is needed to roll text up and down, and there's no annoying pop-up advertising, visual clutter or a need to stay online. It can take less than a minute to download perhaps 150 pages of EmPRINT content, from stories to advertising, using a high-speed computer connection.
"This isn't really anything like a Web site. It's more like a book or news magazine reading experience, but it's your familiar local newspaper," says Pare Johnson, founding director of Missouri's recently launched Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, which is sponsoring the EmPRINT experiment.
"It's a beautiful marriage," Johnson says, "and I think we're seeing the steps to the future of newspapers. This is a major step."
With EmPRINT, a reader may carry the newspaper around on a laptop or electronic tablet, reading stories in Adobe Acrobat. EmPRINT could be run off on letter-sized paper for more conventional consumption, officials say.
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