Friday, February 15, 2008

Why broadcasters struggle with the Web

Sid Bedingfield, a visiting professor at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism, wrote an insightful story for the School's Convergence Newsletter on TV Web sites. You'll find an excerpt below. (See Full Story)

"NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams launched its new Web site with a splash last month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Designed for the broadband world, the site focuses almost exclusively on video. Users land on a home page dominated by an elegant player that delivers a near seamless stream of clips from the newscast. As a means for watching broadcast news on the Web, the NBC player is first-rate. It is easy to navigate and delivers crisp, clear video. What’s more, NBC Nightly News seems serious about building an audience on the Web. The program’s content goes up shortly after airing on television and is available for free (with advertising). The site breaks the tyranny of the clock by allowing viewers to watch the newscast when they want to. And it lets them choose only the segments they want to watch. Sounds like a news junkie’s dream, right? So why do I often find the site stale and unsatisfying?

"The Nightly News site is designed to bring the traditional broadcast news format to the Web. And therein lies its problem. Much of the content consists of an anchor lead-in followed by a reporter package. You know the drill: An anchor tossing to a video report that unfolds something like this –narrator track, sound bite, narrator track, sound bite, narrator track, reporter stand-up, sig-out. The package format has been the workhorse of broadcast news since the days of Murrow and Friendly. It is an efficient means of visual storytelling. In skilled hands, it can pack an emotional wallop. In the passive environment of television, where viewers “lean back” to watch the news, the package works well. On the Web, however, users “lean in” to engage with the content. There, the broadcast format falls flat."

(See Full Story)