Tag Archives: website

If Your Website’s All About Your TV Station, You’re Dead.

WEAR/Pensacola Has Anchor Heads Up Top, Clutter Everywhere

WEAR/Pensacola's Website Has Anchor Heads Up Top, Clutter Just About Everywhere Else

Considering the basic business of local television has always been, you know, television… and the people who do the news get hired in part for their energy, personality, and knowledge (don’t bother emailing, I know I should’ve said “youth, inexperience and willingness to work for pizza”), it must mean something that the most boring blogs and video-dead websites on the internet all seem to belong to local televisions stations.  

Here’s what it means:  Local newsers?  You still don’t get the internet.

So local news director?  GM?  Give me a moment of your time and let me spell it out for you. Ready?  You’ve got it precisely backward.  The station website isn’t a tool to drive people to your newscasts.  Your newscasts are tools–until they become obsolete and cease to exist in their current form–to gather up an audience for your website.  The future is online, and the sooner you start planning for that, the better chance you’ll have of surviving.

"Buzz Maven" Scott Clark

"Buzz Maven" Scott Clark

Scott Clark, a business strategist and search marketing guy knows his websites.  And back in January, he took a close look at how stations were performing with their sites, especially at times of maximum potential traffic: right after a huge regional ice storm.  His conclusion?  “You’re doing it wrong.”

Clark takes the sites apart for assuming everyone who shows up online watches their news (and knows the anchor heads plastered all over the screen), for failing to understand search engine optimization, for failing to keep video posts current and updated, and for just having some damn ugly and annoying sites to look at: “Basic human interface design is a mature industry. You don’t even need to hire someone, but at least do some reading or buy a book and learn a bit about web design.”

It pains me to say it, but the most advanced local news website thinking seems to be emerging from the corridors of NBC, which instituted its “Locals Only” sites on O&Os this year.  The sites have little or nothing to do with the local station, though stories appear and if you dig deep enough on the site, you can find a programming schedule.  But trust me, check out NBC New York and you’ll conclude quickly the powers that be at NBC don’t see the future in building up Channel 4.  Rather, WNBC is a vehicle to build the NBC New York brand, which will likely, at some point, outlast Chuck, Sue, and the 6:00 news.


Theres Not Much WCAU on the NBC Philadelphia Site

There's Not Much WCAU on the NBC Philadelphia Site

So local news managers?  Think about it.  You’ve still got power in your broadcast brand.  But think very carefully every time you send a viewer over to your website for “more information.”  On the sites I’ve seen, those lame anchor tags and web bugs may get you a click, but they also may convince a person to never bother with your website again.  Go have a look for yourself.  And think about it this way:  if you didn’t have a tv station on the side, could this website be your entire business?  Is it good enough to BE the franchise?

No?  Then you’re already behind.  And your competitors probably won’t slow down to let you catch up.


Filed under Local News 2.0, Social Media

On WHDH/Boston’s Website, Anchor Vet Vanishes Overnight: It’s Like Randy Price Never Happened

It must’ve been a long weekend for the Newsplex trolls at WHDH/Boston, what with so much history to erase, you know?  Word leaked out Friday in a breaking news post on boston.com that the longtime main anchor at Channel 7, who’d anchored the news Wednesday night, had met with station owner Ed Ansin Thursday and “mutually agreed” to leave, effective immediately.  “While I certainly was a little stunned, I understood it very well,” Price told the Boston Herald. “When you own the station you have the right to do things the way you want to do them and I respect that.” Since then, Ansin’s publicly described Price as a “friend” who’s “retired,” while Price has firmly stated he may take some time off, but he’s definitely not done.

As is standard in sudden departures like these, station management goes quiet, desks are cleared out, pictures removed from walls, promos are re-edited, and websites are scrubbed.  Suddenly, the main, mustachioed face of Boston’s big, bold, splashy station, shrugs at the mention of the name “Randy Price.”  Come again?  Enter Price’s name in the search box of WHDH’s website tonight, and it will return precisely zero hits.  “Did not match any documents,” the site told me, suggesting that I re-check the spelling or try different key words.  I wonder how long it takes to remove every reference to a man who’s been the dominant face of the station for 12 years?  

Unlike the heralded and highly promoted (genuine) retirement of another Boston legend, Natalie Jacobson, Price will get no on-air farewell, and viewers who look to the WHDH website for an explanation of Price’s he-must-not-be-named disappearance will get no explanation.  As I’ve written before, this type of pretend-he-never-worked-here posture has the cold, clinical feel of altering the history books in the old Soviet Union, updating them to remove references to suddenly out of favor figures.  Don’t viewers deserve a little better? 

To do the “what?  who?” routine only makes all the “news team family” stuff seem so transparent and fake. Like the item WHDH put on its website in 2007–and still searchable in cache form on Google–describing Price’s noteworthy marriage to his partner, Mark Steffan, on Boston’s Statehouse steps:  “We want to congratulate an important part of our team.  Randy Price got married today.”

When that “important part” of the team was let go, the station–like so many others–left it to the newspapers to explain.  On 7, it’s like he never happened.


Filed under layoffs

Slugfest for the Future of Local News: TV and Print, Battling Online

lost remote

Those pesky newspapers just won’t go and die, despite the overconfident predictions of tv newsers, who see newsprint as something akin to the cigarette-and-typewriter filled newsroom, essentially, a dinosaur.  But local tv types have seen the new breed:  print reporters who carry DV cams and stick their mics into those gangbang interviews.  Some may laugh at their gear and inexperience.  LostRemote argues you’d better watch out, or they’re going to eat your lunch.

“This is the time for bold, online-focused leadership.  Opportunities like these rarely present themselves,” writes LR’s Cory Bergman.  “Many newspaper folks don’t believe local TV can step up and become a real competitor, let alone fill their shoes. The next 18 months will define the new leaders in local news, which will pay dividends when the economy rebounds.  Will it be you?This is the time for bold, online-focused leadership.  Opportunities like these rarely present themselves.  Many newspaper folks don’t believe local TV can step up and become a real competitor, let alone fill their shoes. The next 18 months will define the new leaders in local news, which will pay dividends when the economy rebounds.  Will it be you?”

WPLG/Miami's No Call Letter, Multiplatform Website

WPLG/Miami's Site: No Call Letters, Just News (and Twitter)

LR lays out a plan to beat papers, from ditching the attachment to call letters and on-air promotional pics, and get down and dirty:  beating papers at the basic game:  getting local news in a customer-friendly form:  “Rise above the fray and provide your users with the most comprehensive local news experience in the market,” Bergman says, and that may mean spending money, re-educating die hard tv newsers to become multi-platformers, and yes, it may mean using one-man-bands to get unique video content on your site.

But it’s the future, whether you like it or not, and losing a battle now is no recipe for financial survival in the future.  Read the fantastic LR post (and the lively debate that follows in comments) here.

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