The Neglected History of an Early Online Newspaper
In the years to come, the history of online publishing platforms will become an important focus of media theoreticians. For people like me, it already is. And so too, I am pleased to say, for the good people at Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab.
Alex Remington's piece on the Lab's website, about Access Atlanta, a forgotten early digital newspaper, gives some fascinating insights into the commercial and technological logistics of launching a virtual news resource in the early days of the web. The piece also explores what lessons may or may not have been learned for the future and focuses on Access Atlanta's unfortunate stagnation on Prodigy, an early internet platform that predates the World Wide Web we know and love today.
With the debate over paywalls and dwindling newspaper profits still raging, the article is as timely as could be. Well worth checking out.
"Chad Dickerson was hired out of college in 1995 as a webmaster for all the newspaper's content that was not on Access Atlanta, and he could see that restricting online access to proprietary subscribers was limiting growth. "I had just turned 23," Dickerson told me. "And I was thinking, ‘Who are these people who signed up with Prodigy? No one uses Prodigy. Everyone uses the web.' That was what motivated me to get them out of this stranglehold."
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