3 min

Local newspapers 'broadcast' over Roku

Aug 18, 2015 - Columbia Journalism Review - How local papers are looking ‘over the top’ as part of a new model for video

They are video news clips out of Beaver County, population 170,000, just outside Pittsburgh along the Ohio border, but there’s something different about them: There’s no anchor or on-screen reporter, and if there’s any narration at all it’s void of that familiar newscaster voice inflection.

That’s because these segments are produced by the local newspaper, The Beaver County Times, for its channel on the Roku streaming media player, a set-top box that’s a favorite of cord-cutters.

The medium here is called “over-the-top,” or OTT, content.

While the rise of Roku and competitors like Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Google’s ChromeCast has made it easier for viewers to access their favorite shows without a cable subscription, it has also created new opportunities for media producers to reach audiences while bypassing FCC licensing and the expensive equipment of traditional broadcasting stations.

It’s an opportunity, in other words, for a newspaper to launch its own TV station.

Even diminished newspapers have more reporting resources than most TV stations, and most print-legacy newsrooms have trained their staff to shoot video for the Web.

As Tasaka describes his vision for what OTT can do for newspapers—and how it might represent the future of video more broadly—he invokes the industry’s own experience of being disrupted. Local broadcasting stations “haven’t had their Craigslist moment yet,” as he sees it. “It’s going to be when three guys in a garage using over-the-top platforms can create the next TV station in the market or the next news and information station. And it’s going to be three guys who gross a million dollars or two million dollars, and broadcasters are going to look at it and laugh, the way we looked at Craigslist. How can they have a business of two million dollars? The cost structure is so much lower, it’s a very viable business.”



The Toledo Blade is a part of Block Communications, which also contains divisions that support cable TV and internet access.

We don't have cable nor satellite TV. We watch TV over the Roku, over-the-air, and via DVDs.

We use Toast.net for internet access.

The Blade should:

  • Create article pages for paid subscribers that look similar to medium.com posts:
    • Fast-loading. An emphasis on page load speed.
    • Elegantly simple in design with a lot of negative space.
    • No annoying pop-over, pop-under, pop-from-the-side ads.
    • Few to zero trackers and other obnoxious gobbledygook.
    • Minimal JavaScript. It IS possible to display an article page without JavaScript. sites like to use behind-the-scenes Google analytics JavaScript. As long as this type of code is minimal, then it might be acceptable. If it impacts page-load time, then it should be removed.
    • Responsively-designed. Instead of having two or three different websites, multiple native apps, PDF views, etc., provide only ONE website that works well on all devices. The reading experience must be comfortable.
  • Create podcasts.
    • Even if the podcasts simply contain someone reading the text from articles, the podcasts might be useful for people driving, walking, or working.
    • Could the Blade charge a small fee for the podcasts?
  • Create videos for Roku and other TV boxes.
    • On our Roku box, I searched, found, and added The Beave County Times channel. The videos are short, but they seem informative. They don't contain date stamps, which is lacking. The channel offers categories, such as news, entertainment, and community. The channel offers sections on aging in Beaver County and cold cases. It's interesting.
    • Could the Blade charge a small fee for the channel?

#media - #podcast - #writing - #tv - #video

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