Kevin Announces List of "Must-Have" Items for Newspapers

by Kevin Slimp, July 2008

Kevin Announces List of "Must-Have" Items for Newspapers | gimp,gimpshop,slimp,flip ultra,zoom h2,newspaper,design
It always surprises me when I visit a newspaper and see one of my columns posted on a bulletin board. I hear it all the time. “I’ve been trying to get the publisher to buy (fill in the blank) for years, but couldn’t get him (or her) to budge. Then I showed them your column and, voila, they ordered it for everyone in the building!”

It works the other way, too. Publishers will tell me they read my column and decided to purchase new hardware and/or software based on what I wrote. Kind of scary, actually.

After noticing a lot of empty spaces on bulletin boards lately, I decided to do my part by sharing my list of products I’d have around if I were the king of your newspapers. (Note: Be sure to highlight the words “products I’d have around” before tacking this to your bulletin board.)

OK. Here’s my list:

Computers:

New iMacs for everyone. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear a publisher tell me how much production has increased after getting new computers. And the iMac is the computer to get. Two gigabytes of RAM is fine. Oh, by the way, buy some MacBooks for your sales staff while you’re at it. They’re a mobile group, you know.

Video Camcorders:

Ever since I wrote a column on the Flip video camcorder a few months ago, publishers have been stopping me at conferences to show me the ones they carry in their pockets. Everybody seems addicted to their Flip. At less than $150 for the Flip Ultra, it seems like a “no brainer” to get one for each reporter. That way they can shoot a video for your Web site while covering a story.

Audio Recorders:

Going out to cover the county commission meeting? As exciting as they can be, it’s possible to miss a thing or two. That’s where the Zoom H2 Handy Recorder comes in. I finally spent my own money to get one last month, and it was $199 well spent. Actually, I found it on sale for $179. The Zoom records in brilliant stereo on a memory card just like you’d find in some of your digital cameras. Just copy the files from the card onto your computer and you have sound. It’s also great for recording your daily podcast.

Font Management

Software:

Have you heard about the new server-based font management application from Extensis. Of course not. I haven’t written about it yet. But I have it. And for those of you who have asked about server-based font management only to learn it could cost as much as a few dozen iMacs, I have great news. Extensis has just released Universal Type Server Lite, which allows server-based font management for up to 10 users for less than $1,400. It works with both Macs and PCs.

AutoDesk Cleaner: Man, is it expensive ($595). At least it’s not as expensive as it used to be. But if you’re going to have videos on your Web site, you’ll want to make them as small as possible while retaining the quality. That’s what Cleaner does. The PC version is called Cleaner XL. Don’t take my word for it. Try the free demo at http://usa.autodesk.com.

Adobe Flash: I don’t have enough space to get into the whole QuarkXPress 8.0 vs. InDesign CS3 (soon to be CS4) debate. But we can all agree on one thing: Every newspaper should have someone on staff who knows how to use Adobe Flash. Whether you use it to create animated ads for your Web site or to convert videos to Flash files, Adobe Flash is quickly becoming as necessary as Photoshop. OK, maybe I exaggerate. But Flash is something I wouldn’t do without at my newspaper.

Scanners:

Replace your desktop scanners every two years. Actually, every 18 months is a better idea. Scanners lose their quality after 18 months or so, and users spend all their time trying to clean up noise they didn’t create. Fortunately, scanners cost less than a dinner for two (maybe one, with an appetizer) at Ruth Chris. Buy an Epson scanner. They’re the best.

Miscellaneous Software: GIMP (it’s free - and it rhymes with my name) for folks who don’t have Photoshop on their computers. Visit gimpshop.com for more information. ProSoft Drive Genius 2 is a great utility for keeping Macs humming. Adobe Acrobat 9.0 Professional is a must for newspapers that haven’t upgraded to 8.0 Professional yet. You need one of the two.

I could go on for days about hardware and software. But this is a good start. Now go ahead. Put it on the bulletin board.