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THE CUTTING EDGE / CYBERCULTURE | TECHNICITY

More Media Than Sam Donaldson Has Time for

July 29, 1996|PAUL KARON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Veteran ABC-TV news correspondent Sam Donaldson has long been one of the most intelligent and pungent presences in broadcast journalism--one of a handful of television reporters whose image and voice are woven irrevocably into a generation's memory of national and international events.

After 40 years in the business, 35 of them in the nation's capital, Donaldson now co-anchors the weekly show "PrimeTime Live" and is a regular guest on "This Week With David Brinkley."

Donaldson has been a fan of computers for years; he still uses his first personal computer, an old IBM PC XT, out on his family's ranch in New Mexico. Since then, he's kept up with the major leaps in the technology and gone through a couple of more computers until this year's purchase of a new Pentium-based Compaq machine--whereupon he was finally forced to forget DOS and learn Windows 95.

One might think that Donaldson, who has made a career out of electronic communication, would gravitate naturally to the online world, but such is not the case.

"I don't hook up to the Internet because I don't have the time," Donaldson says. "But I look forward to the time when I'll get my morning paper through my video monitor."

Donaldson, who started out as a radio reporter, remembers the days when TV correspondents carried tiny portable typewriters out to the field and shot real film, not video, that had to be dispatched back to the newsroom.

Of all the changes that have come to electronic journalism, Donaldson says, the ability to conduct live reports--filed instantaneously via satellite or microwave transmission from anywhere in the world--is most significant.

"During Vietnam, we shot film that we had to transship by airplane all the way back to America--it would take two days," he says. "But in the Gulf War, a Scud would go over and we'd shake our fists at them and it would be broadcast live."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BIO BOX

* Who: Sam Donaldson, 62

* Profession: TV news correspondent

* Home personal computer: Compaq Presario

* Favorite software: Intuit Inc.'s personal finance package, Quicken. "I am a huge Quicken fan," Donaldson says. "When it comes to numbers, Quicken is just perfect, both for my personal accounts and for my ranch."

* Favorite computer component: The CD-ROM player. "You put in your 'Grand Canyon Suite' and go back to your work and it's playing music in your ears."

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