Access All Areas

On November 5, 2005 by Christy

On November 7th, America’s No. 1 ranked evening news show, NBC Nightly News, will be available online, in entirety, for free, after broadcast every night, making it the first and only newscast to do so. MSNBC claims to:

consistently attracts more consumers than competitors like CNN.com and, in fact, attracts nearly one-third of all online news consumers. The site averages more than 23 million unique users per month, more than triple that of ABCNews.com, CBSNews.com and FOXNews.com.

They also claim that:

NBC News is the leading network news division in cross-platform distribution of its content, with its programming available on the NBC television network, on NBC’s 24-hour cable news channel, MSNBC, on the Internet at www.MSNBC.com, via cell phone on NBC Mobile, on NBC News Radio and via podcast.

There is a nice quote by Deborah Reif, president of NBC Universal Digital Media:

Viewers will now be able to access their favorite evening news program when they want it. NBC News’ leadership decision today reinforces NBC Universal’s broader commitment to delivering our content to consumers on whatever platform they choose.

So, their policies are: provide on-demand & multi-platform content, so audiences can engage with their product when they want to in the platform they choose. Good. I have a few questions though. Is all content available all of the time and every platform? Or are there editorial decisions about what content is multi-purposed? If some are available in all platforms and some are not, what defines the choice the platform? Dr Stephen Quinn, in his book, Convergent Journalism, outlines how an effective newsroom operates as follows:

Convergent Journalism argues that converged news coverage should be driven by the significance of the event. That is, the importance of the story dictates the level of coverage, and influences the size of the team involved and the depth and breadth of the reporting. In a converged newsroom, multimedia assignment editors decide on the most appropriate media for telling the story. A major city fire may require a team of still photographers, video-journalists, online specialists, and reporters. A routine press conference may need only one reporter.

Exactly. It is one thing to realise that consumers want on-demand content and over mutliple media channels, but another to then orchestrate it effectively. What alot of producers are doing is realigning their businesses to the audience needs. Good. The next step though, is to then develop skilled creations that utilise these systems as tools, not ends.

Varing content
Prefiguring the online broadcast is Brian Williams’ blog, Daily Nightly. Brian is “the first and only network evening news anchor who blogs regularly”. It began on the 31st May this year, with a post describing the function of the blog:

We hope this will be a useful supplement to viewers of Nightly News, as both a narrative and as a window into our editorial process. […] Just as we hope Nightly News is a part of your evening viewing, we hope you’ll stop here first each day to find out how the broadcast is taking shape.

So, we have a few key points here:
1) supplement: which means the blog is thematically (content) related but is intended to be secondary to the TV channel;
2) window into our editorial process: this aspect I have spoken about many times over the year on this blog. A trope of interactive media is public production processes. This is a popular habit for many reasons, two of which are the fact that blogging or regular commenting is a publication of thoughts-in-formation most of the time. Announcing your views everyday will inevitably lead to insights into what you’ve been doing, seeing, thinking. It is not possible to isolate your blog from your activities. The second reason for the popularity of public production is the benefits it gives audiences. Fans and newcomers are both acknowledged in this form of content sharing. Fans collect information about their show and personalities, accuring knowledge and therefore social leverage. Newcomers witness aspects of a show that are usually privvy to fans. It allows them a sample of ‘deep’ understanding and therefore simulates a fan status.
3) stop here first: Here the blog acts as a precurser to the night show, an on-demand primer or teaser. This priming is on two levels. One, the post prepares the audience member for the content, providing a narrative window or framing of the show. Which means the audience member will be more likely to watch the show, now that questions are sparked. The second priming is basically organisational: the show is on tonight, at this time and on this topic. This is not relevant to appointment viewers, but to newcomers, it is training in appointment viewing.

The use of the blog, indeed all of the web content, is a canny act. In a paper I just read on the relationship between use of television websites and viewer loyalty attraction, usage can be used to predict watching of shows, maintaining cable connections or subscribing to them (Ha and Chan-Olmsted, 2004). In other words: use of TV websites increases your TV audience.

References:

Nightly News announcement

Ha, L. and S.M. Chan-Olmsted (2004) ‘Cross-Media Use in Electronic Media: The Role of Cable Television Web Sites in Cable Television Network Branding and Viewership’ in Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 49, 4, pp:620-645

Quinn, S. (2005) Convergence Journalism: The fundamentals of multi-platform publishing, Peter Lang, New York.

Quinn, S. (2005) Convergent Journalism, Peter Lang, New York.

Quinn, S. (2005) Conversations on Convergence, Peter Lang, New York.