‘Virtual Sather Gate’ set to launch
Online NewsCenter will keep campus informed while inviting the wider world to Berkeley

By Jonathan King, Public Affairs


05 February 2003 | Forgive the hardworking web team in the campus Public Affairs office a triumphant “Yahoo!” on Monday, Feb, 10. That’s when a year of hard work will pay off with the launch of the campus’s online NewsCenter — a web portal offering Internet users up-to-the-minute access to news and features about all things Berkeley.

Think of the online NewsCenter ( as a one-stop-shopping site for news, current events, calendar listings, and features — written, edited, and presented by a team of Public Affairs editors, writers, and designers with their fingers on the pulse of the campus.

“We’ll have an emphasis on immediacy — news while it is new,” says web team manager Jeffery Kahn, who with a staff of three has overseen the conception, design, and implementation of the ambitious new site. “There will be a daily news stream from all over the campus. Everything from sports stories and webcasts to press releases and Berkeleyan stories.”

Kahn considers the NewsCenter site “a dramatic improvement in the presentation of online news and events” on campus. “We now have the digital real estate to cover the campus in all its breadth and depth,” he says.

“The NewsCenter will be a comprehensive news site for the campus — a place where we can feature news from all corners of the campus, and where people will come daily to find out what’s happening at Berkeley,” says Karen Holtermann, director of University Communications in Public Affairs. “We’re eager to hear from people across campus about news, events, or announcements of broad interest — and we’ll work with them to get that news out.”

The handsome site design is the result of a collaboration between the web and design teams in Public Affairs.

Elements on the NewsCenter home page include:

• Top stories of the day, changing frequently;

• “Press Coverage,” a section of news stories in media that feature UC and campus news sources;

• “Campus Connection,” a selection of stories of interest and importance to students, faculty, and staff;

• “Events Calendar,” an improved and expanded version of the current online and Berkeleyan calendar, featuring more highlights and a must-read “Critic’s Choice” of significant events for the coming week;

• A multimedia section, featuring video, webcasts, and other innovative approaches to telling campus stories. Photographic slide shows will be featured regularly, with upcoming shows on the architecture of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, the new “Gay Bears” website, and an exhibit of photos from the war in Kosovo that was recently highlighted in a Berkeleyan photo-essay;

• Regular spotlights on student stories and innovative campus websites;

• Links to other campus news sites, including the Berkeleyan, California Monthly, the Daily Cal, and others.

In addition, a dropdown menu directs readers to any of 15 thematic areas — ranging from international affairs and social science to people and events. Vistors can both browse stories archived by these subject areas and sign up to have NewsCenter stories on any of the themes e-mailed to them.

“We’re going to have something for everybody,” says Kahn, “People all around the world want to know about the vibrant stream of ideas percolating up from Berkeley. We’re tremendously excited about the opportunity to chronicle what is happening here and to give wing to these ideas.”

George Strait, assistant vice chancellor for public affairs, echoes that sentiment: “People around the nation, indeed around the world, turn to Berkeley for cutting-edge information on a variety of topics — some of them highly specialized, others that speak to the immediacy of daily life. The NewsCenter will present all these far-flung visitors with an easy-to-navigate portal — a virtual Sather Gate, if you will — through which they can pass to access the wealth of information generated on this campus.”