By: Hoag Levins
high-tech launch for newspaper web site
Reporters Wowed in Futuristic Amphitheater
In one of the industry’s flashier newspaper Web site kick-offs, the Baltimore Sun today unveiled its new “SunSpot” Internet site at a special ceremony in a futuristic computer lab amphitheater.
At a 2 p.m. press conference, the Sun presented its new Web site to reporters gathered in the Columbus Center Computer Lab, an ultra-modern biomedical research facility located in the heart of the city’s scenic Inner Harbor district. The Computer Lab amphitheater boasts two six-foot-high digital wall displays as well as 30 Silicon Graphics workstations, allowing the working Web site to loom large as a rock concert stage screen above the assembled scribes, who were also able to interact with the site on their own personal workstations.
The Web site project is headed by Lawrence A. Kessner, a former Baltimore Sun reporter who left newspapers in the 1980s to become a media attorney, then moved on to create three child-oriented radio stations in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. SunSpot (http://www.sunspot.net) is making a point of not promoting itself as the electronic form of the Baltimore Sun, but rather as “Maryland’s Online Community.”
“We certainly hope to preempt the national city guide organizations,” said Kessner, emphasizing that SunSpot would make an intense effort to be an expansive community information utility. The beta version of the site includes a standard structure containing the content of the Baltimore Sun as well as extensive side sections covering a broad range of community-related subjects from local institutions, such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, to an archive of ten years of movie reviews.
Kessner said the Sun plans to include enormous amounts of information from local neighborhoods,even including school lunch menus and the newspapers produced by the students of area-wide elementary, middle and high schools.