Streaming along

Published 8:44 pm Saturday, September 27, 2008

It’s amazing what communications possibilities we have these days, especially for a generation that grew up with rotary dial telephones on party lines or (shudder) who had to give a telephone number to an operator to get a connection.

Many newspaper editors remember the old days of typing out stories on a manual or electric typewriter and getting the copy to the editor, who actually cut and pasted the story together before sending it to the back shop, where someone set up the type.

Not so long ago, newsrooms received hunky pieces of equipment called VDTs. You can see the remnants of them in the 1970s re-runs of “Lou Grant.” Everyone had a large floppy disk assigned to them and took turns typing out the stories on these green-and-white screens. Somebody would take the black box out of the machine and put it in a processor that yielded long strips of stories the back shop folks would paste down on pages.

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The first time a computer came to a newsroom, we didn’t have any Internet, but we were sure uptown. Our editor could read copy we stored on the computer and he or she could make changes automatically. We could sent each other messages that way, too.

Then came the portables that looked like a keyboard with a tiny screen attached. Many reporters used the DOS-based Radio Shack TRS-80s. If we wanted to send our stories, we had to call a special number by telephone, stick two cups attached to the computer onto the telephone receiver and hope the computer at the office got the story. Many times, the copy turned out all glitched up.

Finally, newspapers invested in Internet, and we used services, such as Compuserve for information. It cost money. But as the Internet developed, so did newspapers. Finally, we began to develop Web sites to tell you about the newspaper and how to get in touch with us.

Most recently — within the last decade or so — many newspapers have moved to having their stories posted online. Then, came blogging, which took off. Some newspapers, like The Selma Times-Journal, added photographs, video and audio and blogs to their Web sites.

We’re relatively new to video, but our readers seem to enjoy seeing themselves and others in these presentations.

This week, the Selma Times-Journal made another wee step into the world of communication: We gave you a couple of streaming Web broadcasts.

The first, an announcement of a new industry by the Selma and Dallas County Economic Development Authority, had a few sound glitches, but a good many of you appreciated the effort.

On Friday, we improved the sound on the streaming broadcast of a blues concert from Byrd Elementary School, but we learned about bandwith and streaming and that sometimes the video freezes or jumps, depending on the connection.

We’ll continue to learn and ask for your patience.

You’ll see more video, audio and other presentations online and more references to them in our newspaper. We’re grateful for the opportunity technology has given us to get you the story faster and better.

Thanks for reading, watching and listening. And thanks for the encouragement.