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War coverage may prove groundbreaking

Even as the war in Iraq showcases the increased power of the warrior, it has
also displayed the remarkably increased range of the messenger.

At a panel session on "Technology of War Coverage" at the Radio-Television News Directors Association convention in
Las Vegas, technology experts noted that satellite phones, videophones, lipstick
cameras, satellite improvements and camera improvements are not only allowing a
new level of war coverage, but could also revolutionize the way all TV news is
produced from the field.

Although Cable News Network's Dick Tauber joked that "the last three weeks have set back
video quality," panelists noted that the power to control that quality had
largely shifted to the field, where time, cost and technology availability
determine which of the many transmission methods and their varying levels of
quality will be used by correspondents.

While Associated Press director of broadcast-digital-distribution
systems and strategy Mike Palmer said the current war technology "isn't
going to replace your ENG [electronic-newsgathering] truck," KTVT Dallas news director John Miller, in
attendance at the session, said that with improved video quality, he could
foresee a time when the current state-of-the-art equipment could replace his
next satellite truck at a much lower cost.

"The war has speeded up this process," Miller said. As CNN's Gary Tuchman
noted in a tape made for the session: "In the first Gulf War, we'd have been on
the telephone."

"Is [this] Gulf War's sometimes-shaky, sometimes-blurry video The Blair
Witch Project
of TV news?" he asked. "We kind of like to refer to it," Tauber said, "as edgy."