Thursday, March 25, 2010

Boston Globe Launches Daily Video Newscast

Concurrently with its sister publication, the New York Times, launching its weekday online video news update (TimesCast), the Boston Globe this week launched its own version, called Globe Today.

They both "air" on their respective homepages during the lunch hour (ET), and both provide a sort of front-page headline service. But there the similarities end.

The TimesCast is close to seven minutes, and takes you inside the newspaper's newsroom and lets you watch and hear the editorial process unfold. You get an inside peek into how a handful of reporters and editors are tackling developing stories, with context and perspective.

The 1.5-minute effort, however, is nothing more than a poor man's online newscast -- a solo anchor sitting at a desk in front of a cheesy illustrated cityscape, reading a Teleprompter, intercut with still images and a tiny smattering of video. In other words, it's made to look like scaled-down TV, rather than leveraging either the intimate or in-depth attributes of Web viewing.

Globe managing editor Caleb Solomon told Editor and Publisher: "This is absolutely a new way for us to deliver journalism," which may be true, but nothing to brag about. Then he goes on to say: "It's the next step in video journalism." Which, for all our sakes, we fervently hope is not true. built out a studio and bought equipment -- an investment that cost in the "low thousands," according to Solomon. "A lot of people are taking news in a lot of different ways, and the growth of video is astronomical right now. It's an easy way to take in the top headlines of the day," he added.
Translation: they took the cheap and easy route, not the innovative or forward-looking one. TimesCast represents an investment; Globe Today smacks of the least they could get away with. (And where exactly are those "low thousands" being spent? Technologically, it features nothing that isn't routinely accomplished on a $20 Webcam in a dorm room.)

Globe Today's most egregious sin is that neither the video nor the accompanying text include the date! As the videos are archived on the same Web page after their initial airing, viewers have no way of seeking or sorting out what happened when.

One function of the video player that we do like is that it enables you to search any word in the video -- and then takes you to that point in the video where the word is spoken (accompanied by an adjacent transcript of that section).

Overall, though, we can't help but wonder if there's a significant audience that will be well served by having someone basically look into the camera and read them headlines of top stories that they can more quickly scan visually in print on the homepage? While the TimesCast is at least an attempt to add another layer of comprehension to the day's events, we're not sure we see the value of Globe Today.

Take a look (below) and tell us if you're likely to follow a mid-day video newscast -- and, if so, which style best serves your needs and tastes. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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