As much as I gripe about our local Fox station, they finally ditched that “Our Tennessee Valley ” (OTV) site and had 3HD build an up-to-date presence. Actually OTV was their parent company’s idea, because similar sites were at almost every Pegasus station around the country.
Well first of all, I hated the site because they didn’t hire me. Duh! Then when I finally saw their (now previous) design, I was floored at how unfriendly it was. Actually, it could have been a really useful site. The content wasn’t really that great, but it was better than a lot of the stations around town. They had a gem in the rough and didn’t know it.
The problem is, most of our stations haven’t figured out how to use the web. Most view it as a competitor and not as an extension of what they do. Sure you can pop a banner ad onto the page and sell space, but how do you drive people to your site? NewsChannel9 has a section for comments under each story and almost always, they have people actively participating in the discussions. They allow people the opportunity to provide instantaneous feedback about a story and sometimes that’s more interesting than the original post.
I’ve been saying this for a while, but every news organization needs to have some mechanism like Trackback in place. Provide some opportunity for the average weblogger and/or reader to link up and provide some opinions. Add a message board or allow comments on every story. Give the readers a chance to comment. Provide a RSS feed, with imbedded ads …sure they won’t visit your site, but your ads and news will have the ability to be everywhere. Oh and don’t lock out people…..subscriptions are a bad idea.
Granted, I’ve never worked on a TV site. I’ve been to a lot of job interviews for stations and had lots of discussions about their sites. This rant will probably be received similar to “The Homer “, but at least it’s out there.