Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snowman pictures carry the day

Perhaps my earlier critique of the Alabama media in "getting up" their coverage of the snowstorm on their Web sites was a bit premature. Almost everybody has updated their sites now with some elements from today's snowstorm.

Now that the storm has passed through the Atlanta market, we can see the breadth of the coverage across the Southeast-- in multiple markets. From the (Jackson, MS) Clarion-Ledger's online reporting to the "Snow is Falling, but not accumulating" coverage on Raleigh's WRAL-TV Web site, journalists across the region are making use of the World Web Wide as the medium to tell this story.

Ironically, The Tuscaloosa News, which was quick to post this morning has not yet updated -- other than a new picture-- its site throughout the afternoon.

The "serve it while it's hot" philosophy is clearly playing out on the Atlanta Journal Constitution's web site.

The splash page depicts at least ten elements including a main story, which NOW has shifted from the snowstorm to the icy roads expected with the extreme cold (for the south). Also there are links to numerous reader photos, a story about flight cancellations, tips for driving and links to places to monitor flight arrivals and departures. At the top of their coverage box, they include links to a listing of cancellations.

But, the art-- the reader-submitted photos are what carry this Web presentation

Even more user-generated content on the AJC's sister Cox Enterprises-owned TV station, WSB-TV, which has some 25 slideshows.

I could not help but check out what my former TV station, WXIA-TV does.

An "auto-start" clip from either their 6 p.m. newscast or a web-only visit for the NBC Weather Plus (can't tell from the video) provides an update from the Weather Anchor Paul Ossmann and meteorologists Chris Holcomb and Steve Adamson (both of whom I worked with more than seven years ago).

Like many NBC affiliates, which mostly all run the continuous digital weather feed, Weather Plus, the forecast maps and digital feed with video inserts can be brought front and center on the Web site. Crawls with National WEather Service alerts and links to closings are also on the home page. It's all under the banner: Winter Watch 2008.

Despite all of these elements on 11ALIve's site, they have a link to a web log that stopped being updated at 9:43 this morning. So, how useful is this link?

They have a Web story along with a TV package by my former co-worker Donna Lowry. This is a great example of how the TV newscast content could be repurposed for the Web.

Another piece-- Elaine Reyes' live report (And insert) from Piedmont Park, which she says was "the hottest spot" in Atlanta.

Back here in Alabama, the Montgomery Advertiser (another Gannett-owned property) also included some citizen-submitted photos. But, they also included citizen-generated videos.

Alvin Benn's story has a fresh lead advancing the story to focus on the freezing temperatures expected this evening and comments from the local emergency management officials and the Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright.

The professional, news product is accompanied by the citizen-submitted content-- two short videos from citizens experiencing their first snows.

The youngster in one of the videos can't be more than three years ago. He asks his parents "what happened to our car?"

He clearly hasn't experienced snow. The fact is it's more than three years since Montgomery has had snow.

Alongside the citizen video, there was a video produced by the Montgomery Advertiser staffer Shannon Heupel.

The Advertiser's own weather picture from the city skyline is not nearly as exciting as the citizen photos.

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