Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Rating Miami's TV station web sites

Some recent visits to local TV station web sites have revealed that all web sites are definitely not created equal.

What follows is my (totally subjective) analysis of Miami's Big 4 local English language TV station web sites.

Your mileage may vary.

  • CBS4.com

    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.

  • WSVN.com

    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.

  • JustNews.com

    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.

  • NBCMiami.com

    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.

    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."
    A "news curator?"

    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."

    Any questions?

    1. I just finished your blog on the TV sites — and I completely agree.

      CBS4 is the best TV news site in town. They regularly beat the Herald (often through DeFede, but they've got some other good reporters too) and they have a good enough site that stories are easy to find and navigate.

      And NBC6 is such a complete disaster. I love how every part of it is screams "For locals only!" when it's a cookie cutter of NBC sites around the country.

      It's like being in a particularly bad Applebees trying to be local and charming and just making you sick to your stomach.

    2. If you're going to criticize news sites for being inaccurate, you should at least ensure that your blog post is accurate.

      It is not true that my hurricane piece was edited several times after CBS ran their blog post.

      The reason it was edited several times in the first place was because the status of the hurricanes kept changing.

      Do you really expect us to keep the same story up when one hurricane fizzles out and another strengthens?

      Even the CBS blog post you quote states that the article was edited several times before his piece ran, so you are pulling facts out of your ass when you say it was edited several times after it ran.

      (I know this comment will probably never see the light of day).

      The only thing I changed other than the status of the hurricanes was my so-called flippant remark about local meteorologists who hype up hurricanes.

      It was meant to be tongue-in-cheek but some on the NBC weather team took it a little personal, so I made the decision to remove that sentence.

      Nobody ordered me to remove that sentence. I did it on my own accord.

      Although NBC Miami is based out of the local affiliate office, we report to the national NBC office in New York.

      And CBS does have a lot of gall for criticizing my piece when that same weekend, they ran a story about the topless protest on South Beach stating that "many women marchers wore pasties to cover their nipples."


      There were three women marchers. Far from many.

      I guess I could have written a piece on NBC Miami "slamming" them for their report, but I have better things to do than get in a pissing match with other local journalists.

      Or other local bloggers for that matter.

    3. curator=aggregator. That's about 95% of blogs/news sites.

    4. I can't believe you're taking anything from that morons blog seriously. Carlos Miller and his blog is a joke, no less than an internet broken record.


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