Making new readers comfortable with keys and screens is the challenge facing ews editors this weekend in Philadelphia.

Making readers comfortable with keys and screens is the challenge facing news editors this weekend.

PHILADELPHIA PA – Although they lacked training in optometry, a group of journalists gathered Friday afternoon (April 24, 2009) at Temple University’s Center City campus, determined to ease the strain on your eyes as you read these words.

Because pixels are replacing print in the world of digital news, reporters and editors in Pennsylvania and across the country are thinking about how they can make the reading experience more comfortable for subscribers.

Internet news website operators believe more white space and less clutter on computer screens will help. They hope to use larger type, and write shorter sentences too.

Those and other suggestions flew about discussion rooms for several hours as regional members of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) – including representatives of The Sanatoga Post and The Limerick Post – met in Philadelphia for an annual conference.

They were thinking about their own futures, too. More than a few swapped stories of colleagues who lost jobs or changed professions due to newspapers’ declining fortunes.

Not surprisingly, seminars during the first day of the two-day event carried titles like “Investigative Reporting On A Budget,” and “From Full-Timer to Freelancer: Making The Leap From In-House Security to Who Knows What?” Both attracted large audiences.

The conference also had brighter moments. Along with industry veterans, most meeting rooms held a healthy mix of journalism students. Several expressed optimism about their job prospects in the next 12 months.

The younger reporters seemed to come equipped to the technological teeth. Almost all carried cell phones and sent text messages as they walked the sixth-floor halls at Temple. A few took photos of each other and swapped them by e-mail.

Saturday’s (April 25, 2009) SPJ sessions move to Temple’s original campus in Northern Philadelphia. On the schedule are topics that include “Ethics In The Digital Age” and “Legal Issues In A Multimedia World.”

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