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News Webcast is a Different Animal November 3, 2007

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Advertising, Journalism, News, Web Video.

Brave new things are happening on the Web frontier, but the doom and gloom around old world journalism make people fresh out of J school just want to get a rope, a ladder, and a lonely place.

Journalists as we know them, are going out of business, so says Forbes. The magazine concludes that journalism is one of the worst jobs there is and journalists are an endangered species.

Despite the proliferation of media outlets, newspapers, where the bulk of US reporters work, will cut costs and jobs as the Internet replaces print. While current events will always need to be covered (we hope), the number of reporting positions is expected to grow by just 5% in the coming decade, the Labor Department says. Most jobs will be in small (read: low-paying) markets.


Not so fast. The Web proliferates information and the people making sense of the information are not about to go out of business online. The Web offers broadcasters a chance to test new forms of storytelling and news reporting to make content more attractive to the audiences who are deserting TV news.

Take ABC. The network is using the staff of its evening newscast to produce a distinct daily program for a Web audience. Unlike networks like CBS and NBC which are still using the Web to repackage regular nightly news shows, ABC is unique among the broadcasters’ experiments online.

ABC regards its “World News” Webcast as a first step toward a future that looks increasingly digital and multimedia. They create a 15-minute daily newscast separate from the TV bulletin using the same set and anchor, Charles Gibson. But similarities end there.

The Webcast covers many of the same stories as its TV bulletin, but segments purposely look raw and personal, as if they were made for MTV rather than ABC. Reports break the broadcast news formula with longer stand-ups, sound bites and interviews. There are often quick Q & As with correspondents.

The Webcast has evolved since it started 20 months ago as a distillation of the day’s news. Now it has video blogs, first-person essays and interviews plus a good dose of pop culture and techie stuff. A partnership with Google provides top searches and keywords in a one minute segment.

Pieces have a decidedly new-media feel. For example, a correspondent shot a piece walking on the streets of Baghdad to explain what it was like to wait in line for gasoline and pay more than Iraqis are accustomed to paying. It was closer to a video blog entry than a traditional report.

Looking like a younger, more tech savvy version of its evening TV newscast, ABC Webcast is aimed at people who view Web pages on iPods and cellphones – the 25- to 54-year-olds every news organization covets.

“World News” reaches a fraction of the 4.5 million views and downloads a month, most coming from podcasts downloaded automatically by iTunes users. There’s no ad breaks as ABC focuses on editorial experimentation than on garnering advertising dollars.

Related post:
A TV Website is a Product, Duh.


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