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journalism, old and new

looking at the huge volume of online news that comes through my computer every day, i think back to 1996, when i got an assignment from the columbia journalism review to attend the republican national convention in san diego and find a media story. this being real news, i had to deliver the piece for the next issue of the magazine, whose deadline loomed.

it was fun watching the tv press jockey their mics and cameras around funny-hatted delegates on the floor, and print journalists chasing the buchanan-dole punch-out. but for me, the hot story was that for the first time, the web was a player at a national convention. digital journalism had arrived.

i stumbled onto the first attempts by msnbc to offer real-time reporting exclusively on their website (while first routing their output under the noses of their overseers at microsoft headquarters in redmond, washington). in the process, i had to adjust to terms that were alien to print journalists: html, upload, hyperlink, "shit, it froze."

then, with no time to get a flight home, i sat at my friend's dining room table in san diego and drew the story with pen and ink and fedexed it to new york to appear in a magazine made out of paper in order to tell the story of the first time msnbc delivered the news by uploading it to their website to be read on a screen.

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