We don’t know what kind of printed programs will be available at Mercer County’s celebration of 175 years of technology this Friday, October 4, at the College of New Jersey. But if the only printed material available turns out to be this issue of U.S. 1, attendees would not be short-changed.
This week’s cover story, beginning on page 38, features an overview of Mercer County’s considerable contributions to technology by Barbara Figge Fox, along with a sidebar by Michele Alperin on the opening exhibit of the newly relocated David Sarnoff Library at TCNJ, with an opening reception Wednesday, October 2, and a postscript by Diccon Hyatt on Vladimir Zworykin, the RCA researcher and former Princeton resident who may — or may not — be called the father of television.
The breadth and depth of this week’s issue says a lot about Mercer County’s ongoing innovation tradition, and a little (if we can be modest) about traditional community journalism that can still function at a high level, despite what the pessimists (including a lot of journalists) keep on saying.
The key to making it happen is good reporting, and the key to that are reporters who stick with their subjects for more than a year or two. At U.S. 1 we have been lucky to work with freelancer Alperin for than a dozen years. Barbara Fox has been a part of U.S. 1 as a reporter, editor, and now — after her retirement from fulltime duties — as a “senior correspondent” for more than 27 years.
What’s interesting is that good reporters like Alperin and Fox do not bring a one-dimensional approach to their work. Also in this issue of U.S. 1, on page 4, is an article about an upcoming talk by the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, who advocates adding the arts to the critical educational elements of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Call it STEAM, he says.
Fox describes her STEAM:
“I spent 10 years writing about dance and dancers, churning out reviews and features at the rate of two per week When I came to U.S. 1 in 1986, I learned to write about business and technology as well. No matter what the subject, it is the same skill set — it is always stories about people. Just different technology.
“The technology, nevertheless, needs to be translated for someone not trained in it. You make assumptions about your readers. You can expect the college graduate (the U.S. 1 reader) to recognize such terms as pas de deux and pirouette or lasers and electrons. But they probably won’t recognize the terms petit battements or organic light emitting diodes.
“Dance is actually harder for me to write about because I must focus on not using jargon. Whereas when I write about technology, I probably don’t understand it myself, so I induce my source to explain it to me clearly and simply.
“I have retired from U.S. 1, but this week I couldn’t resist trying to connect the dots with a macro view of the history of technology. For next week, Preview editor Dan Aubrey has invited me to interview Douglas Martin regarding American Repertory Ballet’s ‘Romeo & Juliet.’ And I couldn’t say no when I was offered the chance to interview one of my favorite sources, entrepreneur Chris Kuenne. That’s all three. Whether it’s technology, dance, or business, it’s all about people with stories to tell.”