Sunday, February 27, 2005

Web Weview

The Capital Region is hit city for local TV websites. One area webmeister claims to get an unbelievable amount of traffic ---especially when there's a big local story, severe weather, or school closings. Lots of it is said to come from state agencies; Go figure.
We decided to take a closer look and rate the web sites based on content and usability. Albany Eye invited several news and internet professionals from outside the market to participate. Scoring was on a scale of 1 to 10 in relation to one another, not the wwwww (whole wonderful
world wide web).

Capital News 9 9.0
Capital News 9's web site provides the most comprehensive and easiest to use content. It's diligently updated and serves up lots of news from all over. Open their page and you're looking right at the top stories. Click to see video and it plays ---every single time. Search an older story and you find it. It's pretty much bulletproof. CN 9 has obviously made a big investment in being webby. I don't know if they'll ever make money on what they're doing over there, but they're fanatically committed to doing it right.

NewsChannel 13 8.5
WNYT's recently redesigned homepage is a huge improvement over that thing they had up before. One thing's for certain: the writing is head and shoulders above all the other local TV station web sites. I'm not saying it's the New Yorker, mind you, it's just better than the other web sites. In terms of delivering sheer news value they fall a bit short of CN 9, but they're
disciplined enough not to clutter the homepage with endless crap. On the other hand, just try finding your way off that front page. It's nearly impossible to locate things some viewers might find interesting, like an email directory, staff bios, and information about regular features. Is my browser (IE 6.0) not seeing something? Some sites can be faulted for offering too much. WNYT may have swung a skosh too far the other way.

WRGB 7.0
WRGB would have scored higher, but sometimes it looks like they have seventh graders writing their web stories. Maybe that's their audience, I don't know. They do a great job of giving you access to all the stories they've covered recently right on the front page. They also get good scores for the nav bar at the top that makes it easy to get around ---but again, the writing is absolutely atrocious.
(Fort Edward - CBS 6) Residents in a small Fort Edward community recently found out that they may be living in a house filled with toxic vapors. CBS 6 News spoke to some of the residents who
live near the General Electric plant in Fort Edward, who say they're shocked. Starting on Monday, dozens of homeowners that live near the plan
(sic) will have their houses tested for toxic vapors.
Residents tell CBS 6 it's too soon to panic, but they answers they're looking for can't come soon enough.

Fox23 6.1
Give me news, not gimmicks.
Don't assume that just because I can watch video on my computer that I want to. I don't ---unless it's some great video, like a train hitting a truck full of strawberries. That I'd watch over and over. Nor do I want to build my own newscast. More often than not, it doesn't work. You have the responsibility to dumb your website down to my level, not the other way around. One of the things Fox 23 does pretty well is personalize their talent in the bio section
---though it could be improved by mentioning that Ann Hughes has pet chickens. That's the sort of thing that pushes you from liking the talent to loving the talent.

WTEN 3.0
What can you say about WTEN's abysmal mess of a web site? It's frequently out of date, cluttered, and crammed with garbage that isn't local content. Under the section called "Headlines" you find two week old stories. My idea of a headline is something new; their headlines are practically archives. Get with the program, or get out.