Bob Stepno's Other Journalism Weblog
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Tuesday, March 1, 2005

One of the World Wide Web's first news "brand names" is gone. The McClatchy Company is officially retiring the name of its Nando Media group, now to be known as "McClatchy Interactive."

The original site, The Nando Times, also known as, has been inactive for a couple of years. The Raleigh News & Observer (N&O=Nando) spinoff first put the words "online news" on my resume, thanks to publisher Frank Daniels III and his colleagues seeing the Web as the biggest combined press and delivery truck ever built.

The site launched in 1994, first as a bulletin board and Gopher server. I joined the team that December as a weekend and vacation-fill-in editor, rewriting headlines and leads, adding a hyperlink here and there, building a "combined wires" story now and then. Plenty of those headlines may have shown signs of sleep-deprivation at 7 a.m., but writing them helped me pay the bills for grad school by shovelling dozens of stories a day onto the site's news-category and special-feature pages.

Those special pages were impressive -- and sometimes excessive. Nando organized huge chronogical and topical headline lists linked to its wire stories from events like the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the death of Princess Diana, and the saga of Bill Clinton's troubled "internship."

(When I wrote that, I expected those feature pages full of story links to be long gone, but a quick search did locate a still-accessible photo page from 1995, and evidence of the Diana obsession is still there, for better or for worse. Nando pioneered in putting wire photos online, although when I left in 1998, it still hadn't found a way to regularly link the pictures to the related stories. Home users' slow net connections couldn't handle photos back then anyway.)

At first, Nando Times editors worked in the News & Observer newsroom in Raleigh as an adjunct to the newspaper's copy desk. Later, Nando got its own newsroom around the corner, but I arranged to do the weekend updates from the N&O Chapel Hill bureau. I worked on an antique monochrome SII Coyote editing terminal in the otherwise Macintosh-equipped newsroom of the Chapel Hill News (former home of the legendary editor Jim Shumaker).

Before The New York Times and Wall Street Journal went online, you could find their stories at Nando. It had a liberal attitude toward posting almost anything that came over the News & Observer wires -- Reuters, AP, AFP, Bloomberg, Scripps, LA Times and more. (As the phrase "online publishing" started to mean something, I assume wire service contracts were tightened up. I vaguely remember a series of memos telling Nando editors what not to use, issued from 1995 to 1998, at which point I left to hang out across town at and work on my dissertation.)

Earlier, Nando editors even had high hopes of doing original news coverage online and becoming a major "brand" in online news and sports. After the McClatchy newspaper chain bought the News & Observer in 1995, Nando gradually became a service company instead of a branded news site. A few Nando "alumni" headed for Time, CNN and the Chicago Tribune, as well as Frank Daniels' new companies, but Nando rolled on.

As late as the year 2000, Excite called Nando "nirvana for the true news junkie. Lauded for providing the most up-to-date coverage on the Web... receives more traffic than The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal sites - upwards of more than 3.5 million hits per day."

Since 2003, however, the daily output of what had been the Nando Times editing staff has not been available under its own name, only as the "24 hour news" sections of the individual McClatchy papers' websites:

Anchorage Daily News (
The News Tribune (Tacoma) (
Tri-City Herald (
The Sacramento Bee (
The Modesto Bee (
The Fresno Bee (
Star Tribune (Minneapolis,) (
The News & Observer (Raleigh) (
The Beaufort (SC) Gazette (
The Island Packet (Hilton Head) (
The Herald (Rock Hill, SC) (

Seeing those California "Bee" newspapers' names reminds me of the joke when the McClatchy purchase of the N&O was announced. An employee newsletter in Raleigh ran a picture of the leading lady of Mayberry on the front page, with a story suggesting a name change for the North Carolina paper to The Aunt Bee.

Not only didn't they change the name, the N&O won a Pulitzer Prize for public service the next year, in part due to computer-assisted reporting, a result of the same technology-savvy that inspired The Nando Times.

12:26:36 PM    

Public relations pro Steve Rubel [Micro Persuasion] blogs about Bloggers and Reporters Partying Together, arguing that some bloggers are becoming "reporter's assistants." His latest example is from a Wall Street Journal reporter using an Apple-related blog to find users for an upcoming story....

Locally, it's fascinating to watch past and current MetroPulse folks, including Brian Conley, the publisher, discuss reporting and business issues in the comment sections of SouthKnoxBubba's weblog, such as this item, which inspired more than 50 comments in three days, and today's link with more than 60 notes already.

Maybe I can use the names and insider references as starting points for a journalism class session on using news databases at the library -- and good old-fashioned city directories.

9:57:44 AM    

While I've mentioned the City of Knoxville's RSS (Really Simple Syndication) news feed and the headline feeds from local television stations, I neglected to mention the arrival of RSS at the University of Tennessee College of Communication and Information website. If you don't use RSS, just bookmark the webpage itself. While some of the news is mainly of interest to students and faculty from the journalism, information science, public relations, advertising and speech programs, other items will interest media-watchers throughout the state. Here's one the way it appears in an RSS feed reader:

Photo Exhibition by Professor Rob Heller Opens in Nashville: Portraits of Holocaust Survivors and Liberators to be Shown at Frist Center for the Visual Arts

I previewed a few of the exhibition photos before Rob packed them in their shipping crates, and saw strong, wonderful faces -- all Tennesseans, by the way. Although I missed the opening event last week, I hope to get to the Nashville during spring break for a look at the whole show.

Another example of a CCI news item that would interest folks off-campus: Two months ago, readers of the CCI page would have seen the announcement that Knoxville News Sentinel political columnist Georgiana Vines was joining the School of Journalism & Electronic Media faculty. Yesterday she reflected on her 44 years at the News Sentinel in her last column as a full-time staff member. (She'll continue to write a Saturday political column for the paper.)

9:14:25 AM    

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