What follows is my (totally subjective) analysis of Miami's Big 4 local English language TV station web sites.
Your mileage may vary.
Capsule review: For serious news junkies...loaded with content.
Layout and design: Clean and functional. Gimmick-free.
I visit CBS4.com quite often.
I loved the fact that earlier this month the station posted the unedited video of Miami Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez's almost hour-long rant against the Miami Herald.
Another feature I like are the "Web columns" by commentator Jim DeFede. Jim is arguably Miami's best newsman and every now and then he offers up incontrovertible proof of why the Herald made a big mistake when it fired him.
This site also scores points because no matter what page you're on, a menu of links to all of the site's other pages is always viewable in the left-hand column.
Capsule review: If it bleeds; it leads.
Layout and design: Sparse but functional. A minimal amount of bells and whistles.
Come on...you know you love 7NEWS!
We still have fond memories of Rick Sanchez's Crime Check.
But Rick - "I Needed a Drink To Steady My Nerves" - Sanchez, left WSVN years ago and has now morphed into a bizarre caricature of his Newsplex persona at CNN....
And who can forget Sally Fitz, who firmly planted herself in Miami's Urban Legend annals with a late night call to paramedics. (If you have to ask what that means, then you don't need to know!)
'SVN's site is the police blotter of local TV station web sites.
Like the station's newscasts, there's not a whole lot of coverage of foreign policy and health care.
If you're looking for that stuff...try PBS!
This is down and dirty, in-your-face-behind-the-yellow-tape TV journalism.
Capsule review: Just who came up with the name JustNews?
Layout and design: Cookie-cutter layout. Absolutely no attempt was made to create the illusion that this site is actually produced and maintained by people who live in Miami.
I don't stop by here often. See above comments for the reason why.
Capsule review: This site is to TV station web sites what Ishtar was to Hollywood, the Titanic to the cruise industry and the Hindenburg to air travel. This place is a disaster!
Layout and design: Corporate cookie cutter.
A visit to this site few days ago was the inspiration for this post.
I usually visit NBC Miami's site only when I see a link elsewhere that interests me.
And that's a good thing.
Original reporting and fresh ideas appear to be in short supply at NBC Miami.
A recent visit to the site turned up four stories that originated from either the Sun-Sentinel or Miami Herald; like this story. Or this.
But NBC Miami's main problem appears to be one of credibility.
And people are starting to notice.
Back in August CBS4 meteorologist David Bernard - in an unheard of move in Miami TV circles - slammed competitor NBC Miami's "flippant approach" to a story on hurricanes.
A story that was later edited several times after Bernard's critique.
One local blogger calls NBC Miami, "the place to find....non-news in Miami."
And then there was the time that NBC Miami completely fabricated a story! NBC Miami's editor Jessica Sick later explained the foul-up. But the damage to their credibility had already been done.
In response to an email query from Random Pixels about her site's heavy use of material gleaned from other sources, Jessica Sick responded:The idea of the news site is to be a news "curator" for our visitors/readers. We pick the stories we think they would be most interested in reading, whether it be from the Herald, the Sentinel, the AP, blogs, and national media outlets that may have done a story on something SoFla-related.A "news curator?"
The only 'original' reporting comes from our station, WTVJ, and other NBC affiliates. We also have original writing (I wouldn't call it reporting) for our Around Town section -- shopping, events around town, galleries."
So, how bad is NBC Miami?
I'll answer that by paraphrasing Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin: "This site is so bad it will make you regret being born with eyes. I'm saying Osama bin Laden, if he sees it, will weep bitter tears of frustration that he went after the wrong American city."