Tuesday, November 2, 2010

World Series wrap: a look at old and new media, and how modern media handles big events (like a Giants victory!)

Last night as a bit of a late night. A very late night, actually. OK, a very, very late night.
As a diehard Giants fan, another of those always suffering, always hoping Giants fans, I soaked in the events and emotions of last night's final game (as it turned out) of the World Series.

But then the damn morning came and it was back to work. And while it seemed the smart thing to do to ignore the Giants this morning I suddenly realized that that would be the wrong approach. In fact, looking at the coverage of the Giants this morning makes a lot of sense when trying to understand the role of New Media today. So here goes.
The newspaper front page is the traditional souvenir of sports fans and here is this morning's Chronicle as found on the Newseum website. I still have front pages from events such as the Loma Prieta earthquake, newspapers experiments from the Los Angeles Herald Examiner during my Hearst Newspaper days, not to mention papers I edited in high school and college. Newspapers are still the most desired permanent relic -- proof it really happened.

In the old days, that is, when I lived in the Bay Area, the Chronicle used to print its sports section on green paper. It was a silly tradition because the SF Newspaper Agency's presses were so old that it was hard to read the paper, even on regular stock, but green stock made it almost impossible. Eventually they decided to bag it, but they still called the sports section The Sporting Green.

So to commemorate the Giants first World Series victory ever in San Francisco the newspaper went with the team's color -- orange.

Besides television and radio, outside the area of interest for TNM, it is the web that dominates news readership today. Sadly for Bay Area residents, the newspaper website for the Chronicle -- named SFGate -- is not up to the standards set by other big city newspapers. For a city known for its tech community, I've never understood why the Chronicle hadn't built a better site. Oh well.

Locked into its formats, the SFGate.com site simply can not reflect the importance of major events. Headlines remain the same size, they don't seem to have the flexibility to redesign its site on the fly. So this morning about the best it could do was to drop in a new background on its home page.

The Sports section, though, remains exactly as it looks on any other Tuesday morning. Compare this page on SFGate, the sports section, to the MLB homepage on ESPN.

If you are a newspaper editor or publisher you need to think about what you could do in the same situation -- would you be locked into your old look, as well?

(For the record, The Dallas Morning News appears in the same boat with its website. But between last night's final loss for the Rangers, and the plight of the Cowboys, it seems impolite to talk about that paper's new media woes.)

As I wrote last week, the Chronicle launched its first iPhone in time for the World Series -- a pretty embarrassing little app that simply brings in one RSS feed's worth of content.

A couple of days ago the newspaper updated its app adding blog content (whoopee), it also said that "Authors’ names now appear correctly on each article." Wow, just wow.

While a Giants World Series victory may have been 53 years in the making, it appears that the City's major daily newspaper just wasn't in the ballgame -- at least as far as New Media is concerned.

On the tablet edition side of things, Sporting News Today, the daily iPad edition from the Sporting News remains pretty much the only game in town. The Zinio produced app is a continuation of a similar product that used to be online. The iPad is the proper place for the product, though, and its move to the iPad allowed the Sporting News editors to update the publication's website.
But the daily tablet edition suffers from one major flaw: it is a tablet product that wants to be a print product. Designed to duplicate a print product that doesn't exist, the Sporting News Today is like a car that comes with a buggy whip. Additionally, the Sporting News continues to have video content problems that have not been solved with its CineSports deal.

Again, the comparison has to be made with the ESPN website. Sure it has great video content because it is a television network, but its blog videos like these from Jayson Stark and Jim Caple, show how you can do informal videos that work (at least, I think they work).