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Norman Fries Distinguished Lecture Series
Journalism in the digital age
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    The rise of the Internet has created opportunities for the media to expand into new areas, but it has to be done properly for it to succeed.
    That was the message of Charles Morris Wednesday night as he spoke at the sixth annual Norman Fries Distinguished Lecture Series at Georgia Southern. His lecture was entitled “Journalism in the Digital Age.”
    “The Internet is in a growth mode and it has the media industry scrambling to figure out their role and how it can best be utilized,” Morris said.
    Morris, president and CEO of Morris Multimedia Inc, (which owns the Statesboro Herald), said the appetite for news is not going to diminish and the challenge for media companies is to embrace the technologies available to meet customer demand.
    “I think, in all my career, the Internet is creating one of the most exciting and challenging opportunities I’ve ever seen,” Morris said.
    The Internet is giving newspapers the opportunity to compete with radio and television in real time by allowing stories to be filed from a laptop and uploaded immediately onto a Web site in real time.
    The changing technology is requiring media outlets to meet the demands of how customers get their news, from traditional outlets like print, radio and television outlets to Web sites, email alerts, online streaming video and podcasts, among others.
    Despite all the technological advances, Morris said one constant still held true for newspapers and all businesses.
    “You still have to take in more revenue than you take out,” he said.
    In light of the expansion of the Internet, advertisers are beginning to pay attention to the number of people who view Web sites in addition to the more traditional circulation numbers that have, in the past, accounted for advertising rates.
    At the end of his lecture, Morris also answered questions from the audience ranging in topics from his views on the “paperless society” and the need for a daily newspaper to the role citizen journalism will play in the digital age.
    Morris said that despite all the talk of going to an all-digital format, there is still a market for the newspaper delivered to the doorstep every morning.
    “There’s still a demand for it,” he said. “We’d be out of business if people still didn’t want it.”
    Dr. Jim Bradford, dean of the College of Information Technology at Georgia Southern, said many of the students in attendance were from both the journalism department as well as from the College of Information Technology and he thought Morris’ lecture provided valuable insight to them.
    “This is exactly where they live,” Bradford said. “So hearing someone who has succeeded so well in that field was instructive to them as well.”
    Bradford said he thought the most interesting aspect of Morris’ speech was the rapid change happening in media and the challenges newspapers face, especially from young people who are accustomed to getting their information from the Internet.
    “If newspapers are going to continue to be successful, they’re going to have to wrap themselves around that new market,” Bradford said.
    Despite the changing landscape, Morris said there is still a place for local newspapers. In fact, if done properly, community newspapers are still the most trusted source of news in a local community, he said.
    Morris recounted his lifelong involvement in the newspaper industry, beginning as a teenager when he got his first paper route all the way to today, where his company owns more than 90 different publications as well as five television stations.
    The Norman Fries Distinguished Lecture series was started six years ago to bring nationally and internationally known leaders to speak in the hopes of inspiring and challenging students.  Past speakers have included James W. Kennedy, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Mark Mathabane, South African apartheid author and lecturer.

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