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Saturday, September 10, 2005

How is the Lynchburg Local Media Performing?

The Local Media has taken steps to improve its presentation of the news. Three sources have evolved noticeable over the last several months. WSET, Roanoke Times, and the Lynchburg News and Advance.

All three of these are taking different paths in using technology to supplement their presentation. So how are they doing?

WSET has taken a measured response. Their stories on a local level provide a feedback section for readers to add their comments. They generally take an uncensored approach, that allows many with diverse view points to express their ideas. And after watching this process for awhile now, I have seen how this has improved the quality of local information on their website.

Recently, WSET has provided video feeds to most of the stories that they have reported on, which futher improves the depth of quality of their website.

Additionally, WSET is provides a healthy set of links of websites that it mentions on the air, and in more of the actual stories presented are appearing clickable link references.

With the interactive forum approach on each local story WSET remains top of the heap of local media in presenting an interactive format.

The News and Daily Advance has made forays in improving the usefulness of their website. A lot of their attempts appear experimental. Recently they added a website link to local music, and they have experimented with some visual presentations. They also have a message board which they call a blog, but is more or less a message board. Their blog appears to be not used by their moderator or by readers. Part of the problem is the overwhelming amount of information they require for someone to post. Many appear to be wary to post there. Readers have no opportunity to comment online to the stories presented. Without this interchange for reader feedback, they lose the aspect of interactive exchange of ideas. This causes their stories to remain static without development.

The News and Advance website is loaded with pop ups that almost makes it an unfriendly site to visit. They do provide links to external sources, but rarely in the actual stories. As is common with many newspapers online, interactive modules are not apparent on their website.

The News and Advance is part of Media General. Media General is expansive in our area and the area that surrounds us. WSLS channel 10 is part of this group as are many area newspapers. They have a stated policy of story convergence, with all their news groups rallying around certain topics. They envision this as a positive asset in presenting the news. Yet we cannot help to observe that many of their stories are opinion orientated. And they preserve their opinions by lack of online reader feedback.

The Roanoke Times has one of the most forward advancing websites available for local news. They have incorporated the use of blogs in their format which lends itself to a very interactive approach. Not only do they exhibit the blogs of others, they maintain their own blogs. These blogs are complete with features such as comments and all the conventions you would find in blogs elsewhere.

The Roanoke Times also has pod casts, and interactive modules that enhance the readers experience. Our only regret is there news is based locally for Roanoke. Although, they do have some stories that are relevant to the Lynchburg area that is not their emphasis. We can point to them as example for our own local media.

On the whole from technical view point, we see the local media performance varying in their ability to use and implement technology. WSET appears to be on track with a balanced evolving approach. The News and Advance, appears behind the curve, struggling to implement some experiments, but failing in making their website interactive. And we view The Roanoke Times on the forefront of the technology curve, incorporating a very interactive approach.

So which news will we watch? We will watch all of them. All news agency have their advantages and disadvantages. We hope to sift the best ideas from the mix.


At 3:07 PM, Anonymous D L Ennis said...

We need more ways for residents of Lynchburg and the surrounding areas to interact.
Great article!


At 3:12 PM, Blogger B O B said...

Thank you DL. I appreciate your thoughts, I have been thinking about this awhile and glad I could get it out there.


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