WATPA: FW: New Web site feeds news habit

From: Norm Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Tue May 06 2008 - 14:57:43 EDT

New Web site feeds news habit

By Susan Young
Oakland Tribune
Article Launched: 05/05/2008

Newspapers and television news are territorial. They don't like sharing.
But what they like less is having a news aggregator such as Google come in
and make big bucks on their work.

So former KTVU-Channel 2 news director Andrew Finlayson, who now works for
the Fox station in Chicago, has come up with a plan to share some of those
raw video feeds that local TV news gathers and trims for their broadcasts,
and turn those feeds into Web fodder.

Right now it's new and ragged, but for news junkies it could become more
seductive than "Big Brother" or the old days when people had police scanners
monitoring activity in their neighborhood.

Or maybe that was just my mother's addiction.

This week KRON-Channel 4 is expected to become the first Bay Area news
station to join the site, www.livenewscameras.com
<http://www.livenewscameras.com/> , which currently has more than 100 live
feeds. Click on any of the news logos that line up in a box pattern across
the screen. Check out Tampa, where there's a fire going on. The Birmingham
station has cameras pointed on a civil rights conference, or go over to
another station for a live town hall meeting with Sen. Barack Obama.

The site also gives 24-7 weather from the various stations, so if you want
to see the snow falling in Denver, and then call and rub it in to the
relatives that you're wearing shorts and a T-shirt, this is the place to
give you the most up-to-date info. Works for travel, too.

Visitors engage in live chats with each other, which is probably more
annoying than helpful. It pops up in the middle of the screen, although you
can minimize it. In the upper right-hand corner, there's a live camera often
showing a person in the Chicago newsroom who keeps tabs on what's happening,
and passes that info along to people logged in to the site. Or sign up for a
free Twitter account (www.twitter.com) and get the alerts through your cell
phone or computer.

While Finlayson works for the Fox station, he has lined up ABC, CBS, NBC and
independent stations across the country.

"Some of us in our newsroom thought that we could open up the system. We
thought it would be interesting to do an experiment in journalism where we
let people see what we see - all the raw live feeds from around the world,"
Finlayson says. "We tried it out and decided to test it in a big way on
Super Tuesday. We streamed all sorts of events with candidates and their
supporters, and we had such a great reaction to it that we just kept it

Finlayson sees the site expanding to a time when citizen journalists and
others can capture breaking news on their wireless equipment and pass it on
to the Web. Much like what happened last month when the Olympic torch passed
through San Francisco.

Reporters and people gathered to watch the only appearance of the torch in
the United States were caught off-guard when the route was changed.
The decision came about because of riots in England and France, where
protesters tried to snuff out the flame. While news cameras, crews and
trucks tried to track down the torch, images started coming across from cell
phones by people who caught up to the runner. Those images were streamed to
the station and put on the air. They were grainy and low quality, but at
least it was something.

"If there was a massive earthquake or other disaster, the stations could be
knocked off the air, but you could still have a laptop working wireless and
stream the video and distribute it worldwide," he says.
"(This site) is a start. Eventually, you can slice it and dice it a million
ways. It's the only way you could get an entire speech or press conference
with the candidates, so you get the full context."

Finlayson says it's been an interesting experience experimenting with a news
future that will be "live from the scene on any screen" and can transfer
from the Web site to streaming video live from cell phones.

"Stations from different networks agreed to be part of it, even our
competitors, because if we don't, someone else will," Finlayson says.
"And it will probably be Google."
Received on Tue May 6 14:58:08 2008

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