Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ledger Live shootout

Ledger Live, the latest attempt at a Web newscast, this time by the Newark Star-Ledger, is up and running. As I've written earlier, what I saw so far I generally liked.

But more interesting to me is the digital shootout it's brought on. It started with a snarky review and some even snarkier comments on Lost Remote. Mike Rosenblum, the video jockey who TV folks love to hate, responded with a smackdown that essentially says "Who died and made you God Mr . and Ms. Broadcaster?"

Terry Heaton then steps in doing the peacemaker thing, but also has a very sage observation:
As webcasts go, this one isn’t bad, and it’ll only get better. The evidence suggests these things don’t “work” in terms of gathering an enough audience to justify the expense, but let’s wait and see. I was pretty pumped with the efforts of the Roanoke Times, but that didn’t last. The problem, I think, isn’t the quality; it’s that the web audience for news isn’t best served by this method. I can consume the news (at work) a lot quicker myself than by having somebody read it to me. Besides, there’s that “audio in the cubicle” thing.

(Disclosure: I pay a lot of attention to what Rosenblum says, as I do Jarvis and Rosen, Heaton and some others. Sometimes I find them as anally involved in their corners of the world as I do old-line media types who think this digital thing is a temporary blip. But you ignore both sides of that at your peril: Rosenblum et al. do have a vision and are leading us there; the "curmudgeons" force us to think a bit about why we want to get there.)

In this case, you'd do well to pay attention to Heaton's observation -- and let's take up the thread a bit further. I've seen some good efforts and some horrible ones, but they all have one problem, they are stuck on my desktop computer (or my somewhat clunky portable). I come from Jersey and I actually am interested in this stuff.

But what if I'm in an airport or cab or waiting for a bus? What I have is my cell phone - soon to become my mobile computing device. The strategy for these things, I think, has to be mobile and aimed at a specific audience -- one that wants to be updated quickly on what's happening and possibly several times a day while on the go. So ultimately, if these kinds of webcasts flourish, I think they will have to be:
  • Aimed at a mobile audience
  • Be tight but newsy and have some attitude (translate: make me smile, make me growl, give me something to think and talk about while you're also bringing me up to date)
  • Stay fresh - update two or three times a day (the "we're airing this at noon and we'll update it tomorrow" is not going to cut it)
  • Have good visuals but remember your audience likely is to be mutitasking and so can't necessarily stay focused on your little screen.
We're not to the point yet where these are a sure thing, but I think as we go more mobile, their survival chances increase.

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At 7/31/08, 11:28 AM, Blogger Rosenblum said...

Hi Doug
Thanks for the ping.
I agree that its mobile platforms in the end, but we're not quite there yet with the handhelds, so we're certainly thinking this way.... and waiting, but doing what we can in the interim.

At 7/31/08, 11:59 AM, Blogger Doug said...

I agree. Can't sit around and wait for what might happen to happen. But I think people are a bit short-sighted when they evaluate the long-term prospects of this by the current platform on which it resides.

I just hope corporate folks don't feel burned by the ones that didn't survive that they fail to revive and reshape it when mobile becomes dominant.

(Even now, I wonder if perhaps the S-L should be looking at a version formatted specifically for mobile - take the recorded stream and recompress it?)


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