In a bold move for network news, CBS has announced that it will expand CBSNews.com to a “24-hour, multi-platform digital news network, bypassing cable television in favor of the nation’s fastest-growing distribution system – broadband,” their website reported.
The site will be a joint project between CBS News of CBS Digital Media and will attempt to move its focus to a more up-to-the-minute response to the news and to, in essence, catch up with the modern age of instant internet news.
Isn’t it nice that at least one major network has acknowledged the shift? It is as though the news media continues to operate in a bubble and, inside the bubble, is the nightly half-hour national news program.
The “new” CBS News won’t be competing directly with CNN and MSNBC but with other breaking news websites – drudgereport.com, huffingtonpost.com and catch-all news sites like Google and Yahoo.
The key elements of the new CBS site will include “Public Eye,” a blog that will create “a candid and robust dialogue between CBS News Journalists and the public.” Apparently, this is something that hasn’t happened yet among network news programs. “Public Eye” will debut in late summer.
Another element will be a redesigned home page with an “Eyebox,” an on-page video player which will show on-air breaking news. This will be more user-friendly, giving visitors the opportunity to set up and watch only what they’re interested in (so most of it will be all Angelina and Brad all the time).
CBSNews.com is “designed to capture an audience that is increasingly looking for news and information at all times of the day, not just during scheduled periods.” And Andrew Heyward, President of CBS News, believes it will be a success. “ “We’ve got the resources to make this work. We’re adding more people and technology to make sure that CBSNews.com is the immediate first choice of Internet users who are looking for independent, trustworthy news reporting and comment.”
Well, here’s the problem – online news reporting these days doesn’t appear to be completely successful when it is simply reported without interpretation or edge. What seems to be happening these days on the web is that you get exactly the opposite of what television journalists were trained to be – objective. Why people go to the blogs is to get an opinion, a perspective.
At best, CBSNews.com can be the go-to site for breaking news (but they’re going to have to be really fast to beat the competition). At worst, it will be forced to morph into an idelogoy that draws a sect of the public regularly – right wing (Drudge), left wing (Huff Post). Where will this leave CBSNews?
It is, however, a nice move by CBS execs to change the purpose of the flailing network, which took hard hits recently for the Dan Rather debacle, among other things. While “60 Minutes” continues to offer some of the best, if not the best, content on television, none of its other news programs are particularly provocative. Perhaps if they become a player in the online race for breaking news perception will improve.
One of the better ways television news integrates with the broadband world is the podcast that is now available through itunes and other music sites. If you have itunes, you can download free podcasts of ABC’s “Nightline,” which you can then download to your ipod and listen to while taking a walk or flying on an airplane.
If media becomes more background activity to be done while we do other things – where will that leave television? TIVO is one solution – giving us the power to watch what we want when it’s convenient, but where will that leave news programs? If CBSNews.com is an indicator of a new trend we’ll see a lot less of television news and a lot more of it online.
Notable TV This Week
Thursday, July 14
American Graffiti (****), still the best thing George Lucas ever did, 7:30 p.m., TCM.
Legends of Jazz, The Jazz Masters, 8 p.m., KCET.
Hooking Up, just by the degrading title, this will no doubt be a favorite among the 18 – 24 crowd, 9 p.m., KTLA.
Soundstage: John Mayer With Special Guest Buddy Guy, 10 p.m., KCET.
Friday, July 15
Indecent Proposal (***), 7:30 p.m., WE.
Dracula (***), 7:30 p.m., AMC.
How Stella Got Her Groove Back (***), 7:30 p.m., BRAVO.
The Mephisto Waltz (***), 7:30 p.m., FMC.
Saturday, July 16
I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (****), 8 p.m. BET.
The Princess Diaries (**), 8 p.m., ABC.
Marvin’s Room (***), with Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton and Leonardo DiCaprio, 8 p.m., UPN.
Mystery! Touching Evil III, 8 p.m., UPN.
Sunday, July 17
Jackie Brown (***), 7:30 p.m., IFC.
Like Mike (**), 8 p.m., KTLA.
Mystery! Inspector Lynley: If Wishes Were Horses, 8 p.m., KCET.
Dances with Wolves (***), 9 p.m., TNT.
Monday, July 18
28 Days (**), 9 p.m., ABC.
Cleopatra (***), 9 p.m., FMC.
Prime Suspect, 9 p.m., BBCAM.
I Am My Own Twin, sounds intriguing, 10 p.m., TLC.
Tuesday, July 19
In the Heat of the Night (****), 8:30 p.m., AMC.
Weekend at the Waldorf (***), 8:30 p.m., TCM.
Wide Angle: The Future of Lebanon, 9 p.m., KCET.
Inside Saddam’s Iraq, 10 p.m., KCET.
Wednesday, July 20
My Fair Lady (****), 7:30 p.m., TCM.
Looking for Richard (****), Al Pacino and Winona Ryder, 8 p.m., IFC.
Brat Camp, eek! 9 p.m., ABC.
The Pelican Brief (**), 9 p.m., TBS.