Y2K stories run gamut in Indiana p.10

By: David Noack The Times in Lake and Porter counties, Ind., has coverage of the Y2K computer glitch that runs the gamut from doom and gloom to self-promoters and businesses looking to make a buck.
"We're routinely writing Y2K stories which reflect everything from scare mongering to businesses poised to cash in on Y2K by promoting this or that software protection," says Don Asher, the Porter County editor of the newspaper.
The paper's coverage is not unlike that found in most newspapers around the country, which are grappling with the issue of what will happen to computers ? and everything they control ? at midnight on Dec. 31, 1999.
"Frankly, I think reporting on this issue has been all over the map. The result is confusion over whether or not we're facing disaster. Are we failing our readers? Yes. I don't see how you can ignore the alarmists. Maybe they're right. It just seems no one has a solid handle on the magnitude of the situation. There are reputable experts on both sides. Who are we supposed to believe? Just in case, I don't think I'll fly on New Year's Eve," says Asher, who notes that the business department is doing the bulk of the coverage.
Phil Haslanger, managing editor of The Capital Times in Madison, Wis., says the media has focused on the gloom-and-doom aspect of the story.
"I think that generally up to this point the media has gone more heavily on the sky is falling potential of Y2K, perhaps because there is more drama in those stories," says Haslanger.
He says that Gwen Carleton, the Capital Times' higher education reporter, has also become the paper's specialist on Y2K issues. And as Carleton did a story for the Jan. 1, 1999, edition of the paper, saying that some Y2K issues may begin popping up during 1999, the paper encountered their own Y2K pitfall.
"Little did she know as she wrote the story that our building's security computer would deprogram access for all employees at midnight of the new year because the computer read '99' as the end of the program," says Haslanger.
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http:www.mediainfo. com) [Caption]
?(Copyright: Editor & Publisher March 6, 1999) [Caption]


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