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January 2006: New Media Beginnings



I just got a late Holiday present: watching David Letterman take apart Bill O'Reilly on his show tonight.

Just as O'Reilly was cautioning that people should "watch what they say" for fear of bringing defeat in Iraq, Letterman replied that perhaps Bill should take his own advice -- later noting "I'm not smart enough to debate you point-to-point on this...but I have the feeling 60 percent of what you say is crap." And "This fair and balanced...I don't think you represent an objective viewpoint."

Happy holidays, everybody.

Since January is a month for new beginnings, I'd like to note three new media beginnings that emerged today: The new anchor team on ABC's World News Tonight; CNN's new Pipeline video streaming service and David Lee Roth's debut in Howard Stern's old radio time slot.

World News Right Now

Besides marking the day Bob Woodruff and Elizabeth Vargas would anchor their first edition of ABC's evening newscast World News Tonight, Tuesday also marked the unveiling of a special webcast for the show and a blog, dubbed The World Newser.

This is to be ABC News' face for the new millenium -- a space where viewers get on demand access to the network's video offerings and special material TV watchers will never see. And while last night's efforts were just the first step on a long road, the paucity of material revealed just how long that road is going to be for the Alphabet Network.

The webcast is a 15-minute preview of the stories to be featured on the evening newscast, delivered live at 3 p.m. For some reason, though Woodruff was seen in a pre-taped introduction to the webcast from Iran, when it came time to introduce his report from the country live, he did it by cellphone. Other correspondents who delivered reports on issues of the day -- including George Stephanopoulos on lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea -- seemed to stumble a little, not yet used to making the earlier deadlines.

I couldn't help wondering why they never posted the actual evening's newscast for streaming (since Vargas and Woodruff anchor three different broadcasts for eastern, central and western time zones, it seems they would have plenty of versions to choose from). Or why the latest entry in their blog was filed by Woodruff in Iran two days earlier. Competitor Brian Williams often reveals on his blog the debates and decisionmaking that goes into developing the stories for NBC's Nightly News; Woodruff's entries centered on his travel problems in Iran and the fact that the newspaper mistakenly ran a photo of deceased anchor Peter Jennings with its story on his arrival there.

With blogs, webcasts and three separate newscasts, its a wonder they have time for any reporting, anyway.

As new beginnings go, it could have been better.

CNN's Pipeline to the Future

CNN now has its own broadband online platform for video streaming feeds dubbed Pipeline. Though the service was unveiled about a month ago, it seems CNN has begun to really publicize on air the site this week, which allows access to commercial-free streaming video of CNN stories and live coverage, priced at $2.95 per month or $24.95 annually.

Once logged onto Pipeline, users can watch four feeds of live video, pick from a list of stories recommended by producers or browse CNN's full roster of stories. There's also a video digest of the latest news, updated hourly, an expected schedule for the next day's coverage and a way to send messages to CNN dubbed Your Voice.

It's a slick setup, though only one of the four live feeds I pulled up tonight had sound. And of the two feeds featuring coverage of the ongoing miner rescue around 11 p.m., one was constantly trained on a reporter even when she wasn't on the channel (showing her reading notes, rearranging wires and other odd stuff) and another feed was trained on an empty podium in what looked like a press tent. At least, when CNN International picked up the live reports, I could see stories on the rescue with sound.

Such stuff is irresistible to media critics, but I doubt any but the hardiest news junkies will spend much time wading through this stuff -- especially when a fair amount of it is available for free (but with commercials) on the main Web site.

DLR: He's Just a Little, um, Boring

Former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth debuted his new radio show this morning. And even though the closest radio station carrying it is in West Palm Beach, I listened to a bit this morning via the magic of streaming audio online.

And, even though I never expected to say this about the guy who co-wrote Bump and Grind and A Lil' Ain't Enough, it was...not that compelling.

Granted, I only heard about 30 minutes. But long minutes with DLR commiserating with another paramedic on how he became an EMT in NYC, followed by another long bit where he got his uncle to talk about fighting in World War II -- well, I'm not sure that's what legions of Howard Stern fans expected as his replacement.

With luck, it was only opening day jitters. Otherwise, CBS Radio is in for a long, post-Stern period.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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