Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Traditional News Media Failing to Exploit Online Versions

Back in the early days of the Web, I worked with a team of our graduate students studying how radio and TV stations were making use of the Web. (And I mean early, for the first study we looked at all 61 TV station websites online in 1995). One of the main findings of that and the subsequent additional studies was that local broadcast media was, for the most part, not taking advantage of the potential that the Web offered.  According to a new study by brand research firm knowDigital, they still aren't. knowDigital President Sam Mildman concluded that "most online news sites have failed to take ownership of the images that are most important to online news consumers ... whether it's top headlines, traffic, weather, sports..."
To a large extent digital sites associated with traditional media simply reformats or repurposes content created for other media - assuming that consumers want the same content of traditional media, only in digital forms.  The report suggests that's a false assumption - the report argues that as familiarity with digital media develops, users discover the distinctive values and attributes that digital media offer.  Readers of online news sites of newspapers, for instance, are generally seen as little more than electronic versions of the paper, lacking the visual attractiveness, graphic appeal, and customizability of other online news sites.  knowDigital also found that many local TV station sites fail to generate much traffic because their audiences think of them solely as broadcast TV brands, and don't expect them to have online versions.

Sources: "Local TV Stations, Newspaper Sites Slammed by Users", Online Media Daily
Bates et al., Television on the Web, 1996 study.

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