Will It Survive, and Thrive, in an Online World?







The Present era of broadcast news and the Internet rests in a state of flux. Broadcasting is like the veteran...savvy, but old and at times unwilling to bend. The Web is like the rookie, lots of energy, but young and full of mistakes. Right now, in my opinion, the on-air product is still much more important to the survival of a local broadcast news station than their website. However, that may not always be the case. In truth, the ability to get a smooth, accurate website online with information that is relevant and timely is becoming more crucial by the day... The Ghost of Broadcast Future would certainly haunt local news stations that fail in this capacity.

Unlike the Past, where news organizations did their own thing over the FCC airwaves for 30 minutes and then worked behind the scenes and waited until the next newscast; the World Wide Web has opened new doors and in the process has changed the way local broadcast news affiliates reach the people in their market (it is the ultimate goal to make sure they don't trip on their way in through these doors).

"Our primary goal for is to be the source of news and information for web surfers in the Inland Northwest. In order to achieve that goal we need to develop content on our site that is crisp, clean, and free of errors or omissions, and give our surfers/viewers the most complete, up-to-date and accurate content available in a timely fashion. As the Internet is constantly changing, these guidelines are to be considered a 'work in progress' and will be updated as the need arises."


In the April 2002 edition of the RTNDA Communicator: "The Magazine for Electronic Journalists," Rob Kauder explains his role as the Spokane, Washington station's first Internet content producer back in 1999. Kauder faced the challenge of transforming KREM's old-fashioned site into a sharp, important tool in the dissemination of information to the public.

With the mission came the game plan, and 4 main issues:

1. Continuing Coverage: For this element of the plan, Kauder writes that his station implemented certain times to take not even 5 hours of programming , and make a 24/7 website. The times for updating are strategically planned to match the times surfers are most likely to hit the site.

2. Breaking News: When a story breaks, television news has some of its finest moments. Breaking news can not be covered as adequately by the traditional newspaper... they just can't compete. It, to many, is what makes local news important. It is truly one of the most important things local news does... get accurate information out, fast. And, no matter what kind of great web updating staff there is in place, you still need sound journalism getting the facts. They key here, for Kauder and KREM, is working together.

3. Weather: Weather, weather, weather... People want their local weather, they want it often, and they want it by experts. Kauder and KREM know this, therefore he writes that making the weather info. easy for surfers to find is with the 'Breaking Weather' homepage.

4. Coordination of Online / On-Air Coverage: Finally, to run smoothly and effectively, everyone needs to work together at all times, not just during breaking news. From meetings together to plugging the website during casts, in what KREM calls 'web love' moments, the significance is evident.

Kauder writes that in December 1999: 146,000 page views. In December 2001, 901,541 (six times the number).

But... Judge for yourself... Here are the websites for KREM and other local affiliates in Spokane, Washington.





(RTNDA Communicator... April 2002, Vol. 56, No.4... Author: Rob Kauder..."Web Workout")

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Copyright 2002 Dan Cohen