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In praise of new media technologies

Dear editor:

I'll bet I'm not the only reader finding the tone and content of Brad Palmer's letter “A word of thanks” from the Feedback column of your November issue almost laughable.

I was most surprised that a modern media company's VP of operations questions the importance of raising efficiency and, hopefully, profits. He seems to believe that job prospects of up-and-coming journalists trump the value of running a viable business.

I wonder how many unemployed newspaper and magazine journalists (reporters, writers, editors, artists and photographers) wish their companies had adopted more efficient business systems and processes and taken advantage of new technologies for production, distribution and monetization. Their answer has been a steady flow of layoffs and folded publications.

I was a newsroom computer systems pioneer, working in sales and management roles in the late 1980s with Jefferson-Pilot Data Systems, BASYS and (later) Associated Press Broadcast Technologies. In the late 1980s, only dentists ranked lower than broadcast news operations in their use of computer support systems. These were the days of electric typewriters and six-part script sets.

Newsroom systems were initially positioned as cost- and time-saving investments, but I can't recall any cuts in newsroom staff as the direct result of a newsroom system implementation.

In fact, I contend advances in media technology create more options and opportunities — not fewer. The ability to produce and distribute news is no longer a power held only by rich networks and stations. Technology has made news programming less costly, more immediate, more accessible, more relevant and — if anything — has reduced the technical complexity of broadcast journalism.

Aspiring broadcast journalists should view creative application of new media technologies as part of the challenge of being a reporter, editor or videographer. I wonder if Mr. Palmer would have taken up the cause of monks when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and reduced the demand for Bibles reproduced by hand.
Jim Cundiff
Executive VP and managing partner
Sales Performance Associates
Roswell, GA

CRT displays

Dear Aldo Cugnini:

I have looked at HD monitors during the last couple of years and have found that LCD technology will not meet or come close to “broadcast standard” in a color correction room or an editing room. We have looked at the $26,000 Sony unit and found it poor when compared to their old HD CRT monitors. It is my belief that the industry must look for a different technology for broadcast displays — organic LEDs or the technology shared by Canon and Toshiba. Another problem with the existing flat-screen displays is the processing delay, which causes lip sync problems.

Before reading your column, I was under the assumption that the transfer characteristics of LCD and plasma displays was linear. Do you know what causes the gamma transfer on these devices? Is it added electronically to make it match CRTs? As an old color camera designer, one of our major problems was the noise added when we gamma-corrected the video signals from the pickup tubes.

Today, the only two ways to view HD video in a broadcast environment is on an old Sony CRT monitor or a projection system.
Ted Dunn

Aldo Cugnini responds:

While it is arguable whether LCD displays are currently close to a “broadcast standard,” the sad truth is that CRT displays are going the way of the dodo. With fewer CRTs being manufactured and sold, the economics of the bottom line will make (or has already made) the point moot. As for processing delay, any good monitor should account for this and make for perfect lip sync. As for gamma, modern devices are not linear, due to the physics of displays, but have their own particular transfer characteristics. Again, a good design will take this into account.

Cost-cutting measures

In response to your “Broadcasters slash expenses no matter the cost” article on your Brad on Broadcast blog, that was the funniest thing I read in weeks. Nice work, Brad! Unfortunately, you are correct. I think everyone has learned a hard lesson in making an effort to save company dollars. But as you state, some companies have taken this to the extreme. Seriously, no clocks at Sprint? I would hate to see what Las Vegas does to reduce OPEX. The “no clocks” policy is already in place there.
Eric Harrington

Noise wars

Dear editor:

In response to your “Noise wars” article on your Brad on Broadcast blog, I can't figure out why advertisers would think that “in your face” ads would motiviate anyone to buy a product or service. Would anybody with even half a functional brain cell buy one of those imitation watches that we are bombarded with daily via e-mails that advertise them? The very fact that they are advertised this way tells me that they are a rip off. Worse yet, they probably really want your credit card number so they steal your identity. There must be some really stupid people in this world.
Paul Alciatore

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