Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Technology Behind USA TODAY

USA TODAY Sports Weekly


The Technology Behind USA TODAY

Without the technologies of communications satellites and high-resolution facsimile transmission, USA TODAY could not exist. The USA TODAY newspaper you picked up on the newsstand this morning traveled more than 44,600 miles through space at the speed of light before it arrived at the printing plant last night.

USA TODAY is completely edited and composed in McLean, Virginia. It is then transmitted, via satellite, five days a week, to the thirty-six printing plants serving major market clusters across the USA, and to four printing plants serving Europe and Asia.
The satellite signal that carries the domestic edition of USA TODAY is sent in one-eighth of a second to two GE Americom satellites, the GE4 and GE2, parked in stationary orbit 22,300 miles above the earth over the United States. Instantaneously, the signal is beamed back earthward, and another eighth of a second later is received simultaneously at the printing sites.

Electronic Editing

When USA TODAY launched in 1982, a computerized word processing system designed by Atex, Inc., of Bedford, Mass. was the heart of the USA TODAY production system. The editorial staff wrote and edited stories on video display terminals (VDTs). The stories would then go to phototypesetters to be set in photographic form (positive type on a paper film), which in turn was then pasted up into the various USA TODAY pages. The ATEX system was phased out in summer 1999.

The CCI NewsDesk Editorial and Pagination System replaced the Atex editorial front-end system. This introduced daily editorial pagination at USA TODAY. All editorial staff now work from PCs with e-mail and Internet capability. CCI NewsDesk allows the design editors in each section of the paper to layout and see a completed page on screen. Last minute changes can be made with the touch of a button instead of the cut and paste method.

Deadlines for news copy and for completed pages have been calculated to the minute to provide an even flow for facsimile transmission, and to give editorial the latest possible copy close.

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