By: Editorial Staff
THE DAYTONA BEACH (FLA.) News-Journal started a free computer service July 1 called News-Journal Center.
It offers news, advertising, entertainment information and items from local government and colleges to computer users.
“As personal computers grow so dramatically for in-home use, we want to explore this path to provide late breaking news and searchable advertising,” said publisher and co-editor Tippen Davidson.
He said the on-line service would “complement” the newspaper and its free telephone information service, Infonet, which takes 160,000 calls a month and is supported by advertising.
The home-grown on-line service, independent of the national providers, is designed to be “an electronic town square for members to debate local issues, share opinions and develop a sense of community in the same way that our editorial page has served as a catalyst over the years,” Davidson said, adding that over 500 people have offered to participate as hosts or advisors.
So that people who don’t own computers can access the service, the paper said it will provide nearly two dozen personal computers to libraries and schools in its circulation area of Flagler and Volusia counties.
About one-third of the computer service’s content comes from the newspaper. Classified advertising is searchable by scrolling or key words. One-third comes from community contributors, including five colleges, two public school systems and two county governments. The final portion comes from users, including four dozen forums on subjects ranging from gardening and cars to outer space. Electronic mail and on-lines games are also in the mix.
The newspaper’s system is based on Galacticomm’s Major BBS software and starts with 50 phone lines able to handle several hundred callers at once. Almost any personal computer with modem can access the service through a local call.
The 99,000-daily-circulation newspaper prints a daily guide to the on-line service on page 2. The service carries regular updates about its “construction.” And the newspaper has promoted it in other media, including the local phone directory.