Podcasts Not Quite As Easy As ABC

9 10 2011

Logging onto ABC News this week it appears they have given their website a mini-makeover.  It does look a bit more polished and visually attractive with regards to design but unfortunately trying to find things on the website remains quite tricky given the same information overload that plagued the previous version.

This particularly hampered my attempts to find evidence of storytelling with sound, audio slideshows or podcasts.  In fact I found ABC News to be mainly dominated by video content with a few slideshows showcasing the more unusual photos taken from around the world in the past week.  To be honest, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – if they have the video to accompany a story then I think they should always look to use it, particularly on a news website.  Similarly I prefer slideshows to be silent as photos should be good enough to tell a story without the need for audio.  However I was most surprised in ABC News by their use of podcasts.

For a start, I had to use Google to even find ABC News podcasts because I couldn’t find a link on the news website.  It turns out the podcasts are located in the ABC News Radio website.  I chose to listen to the October 7th edition of the World News with Diane Sawyer podcast.  It became clear from listening to the podcast for just a few minutes that ABC’s idea of a podcast wasn’t quite the same as my own.  I was expecting it to be a supplement of the television version with either extra information that didn’t make it into the original newscast or a more condensed version tailored to an audio environment.

Instead it was just the same as the television programme with the only difference being the stories were placed in a slightly different order.  In effect, this meant the podcast was twenty minutes of TV news reports with just the audio.  This made the whole thing so amateurish as, because the reports were made for television, the emphasis was on the production of the pictures rather than the audio and also at times the reporters referred to bits that you needed to see.  By also changing the order of the stories it led to some extremely questionable edits that appeared to be rushed and led to the audio levels jumping around which is disconcerting for the listener.

World News with Diane Sawyer wasn’t the only podcast offered by ABC News, but considering this just happened to be the one I chose to listen to, and the subsequent pointlessness of listening to a repeat of a news show with no visuals that I could just go on to the ABC News website and watch the repeat with the visuals (that it was made for), why would I even bother exploring the other podcasts if that is the value ABC place on them??




2 responses

10 10 2011

I also had the same problem with locating the podcasts on CBS News’s website. What sort of solution (other than just plain putting a Podcast button) on the website would be best?
I thought that they could either incorporate the podcasts into that reporter’s story or sidebar link the podcast with related stories.
What different ways do you think they could accomplish this?

10 10 2011

To be honest I think the first suggestion you make is the best one – just put a button linking to the podcasts on the homepage of the website. Too often news sites try to be too clever in how they layout their sites when all the reader wants is to be able to navigate the site as easily as possible. If they can do that then they will come back and use it again.

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