WCCO-TV unveiled a new way to interact with the news today. “The Wire” is a graphical way for Internet users to explore news, events and comments.
Trying to describe the The Wire highlights how different it is. Is The Wire a news site, a web service, a platform, an application, a social network?
David Brauer at MinnPost struggled with terminology, winding up calling The Wire a “news-buzz-graphical-interface web thingie.”
Good for WCCO-TV for trying something new. The project, led by WCCO’s director of new media John Daenzer, has been in the works for months.
The station hopes The Wire drives traffic to its main news site and eyeballs to its newscasts. It also aims to generate some direct revenue — CenterPoint Energy is a main sponsor right now, using the site to promote its product repair plan.
It’s a noteworthy play for WCCO. Like newspapers, local TV news stations have been struggling to overcome falling income and declining audiences for their “legacy” products.
Local media outlets across the nation are aiming to grow their digital operations, even as they cope with staff reductions, a tough economy and huge shifts in their traditional business models.
KSTP-TV is taking a different approach, recently announcing a push into the “hyperlocal” space. The station plans to launch a series of sites serving neighborhoods and suburban cities.
WCCO’s The Wire is too new for anyone to know whether it will develop a sizable audience or languish as an Internet curiosity.
But it certainly looks innovative. News, events and comments appear in bubbles along a timeline. The site, built by WCCO and the Twin Cities web-development shop The Nerdery, is smooth and cutting edge.
The interface may be a bit much for some users, especially at first. You don’t really know what to do when you get there, so it takes a bit of learning.
Will The Wire be like Google Wave, where many first-time users wondered, “What do I do now?” Or will it build a loyal base of users and become a prominent part of the Twin Cities news landscape? As they say on TV, stay tuned.