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Georgia Southern University

Media executive outlines future of journalism in the digital age as annual Fries Lecturer

Advances in technology are changing how news is being gathered, transforming the traditional reporter into a ‘MoJo,” or mobile journalist.

According to Charles H. Morris, delivering Georgia Southern University’s sixth annual Norman Fries Distinguished Lecture, the advent of laptops, cell phones and digital cameras and recorders will require reporters to multitask and their office will be ‘wherever they are.”

To illustrate the concept, Michelle Boaen, a member of the Statesboro Herald staff, took the stage wearing a special backpack to demonstrate how easy it was to capture video and sound on the go. The pack also held a laptop, cell phone and personal digital assistant.

Technological changes are requiring media outlets to meet the demands of how customers get their news, said Morris, president and chief executive officer of Morris Multimedia. He added that 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.

Despite the rise of the Internet, which Morris said was still in a ‘growth mode,” he told the large crowd of students and community members, that there was still a market for the traditional newspaper.

‘It’s still the most trusted source of information for the community,” Morris said.

During his talk, presented Wednesday, Sept. 27, in the University’s Performing Arts Center, Morris recounted growing up in the ‘family business.” His father owned the Augusta Chronicle, for which Morris worked as a paperboy. He said his experiences as a youth influenced his success – particularly learning about customer service. He also encouraged the mostly student audience to ‘never underestimate the importance of mentors.”

In addition, he stressed students should be prepared to adapt to the future. He said employers today ‘focus on people who are willing to learn news skills.”

Dr. Jim Bradford, dean of the College of Information Technology, which hosted this year’s Fries Distinguished Lecture, echoed those sentiments.

‘Lifelong learning is the catch-all phrase,” said Bradford. ‘It means being prepared to learn from the day you graduate until the day you retire.”

Morris, a graduate of the University of Georgia, worked for newspapers in Oklahoma City and St. Petersburg, Fla., after completing his degree. He later joined the Savannah Morning News as a reporter and was named its publisher in 1966. Four years later, he founded his own company, which has grown to become Morris Multimedia Inc., the parent company of Morris Newspaper Corporation and Morris Television Network One of the largest privately held companies in the United States, Morris Multimedia owns and operates 90 publications, including The Statesboro Herald and four other daily newspapers, as well as five network-affiliate television stations and other media-related ventures in nine states and the Caribbean.

The Fries Distinguished Lectureship Series is sponsored through an endowment honoring the late Norman Fries, founder of Claxton Poultry. Fries, who died in December 2001, was one of the state’s leading business leaders, serving as a past president and director of the Georgia Poultry Federation.

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