Monday, March 2, 2009

Local Review #1 - TV on the Web

Welcome to the first little Local Review' column. Today I will be taking a look at the online presence of a few local television stations. If I feel like it, I may do one of these every now and then based on different subjects relating to Portland. Also, feel free to give me some ideas of things to review!

Along with newspapers, television stations are also seeing a decline in revenue due to decreased advertising income. Almost all television stations have a strong presence on the Internet these days, with hopes of putting a few extra bucks into their wallets. Let's take a look at Portland's 'big 3' news team websites.

The contenders (in order by station number):

WCSH Channel 6

WCSH did a fancy refresh of their website several months ago, and as you see they are going for the 'myspacey' approach. The viewer is encouraged to sign up and create a profile, comment on articles and blogs, comment in forums, upload photos, and 'keep up with your friends.' It is a pretty ambitious offering. With all the buttons and such, it really slows the site down. Also, the teeth whitening and wrinkle cream ads are too big for my taste. Lots of news sites benefit from a touch of 'social networking,' but I think they should cut it back just a tad and focus on the news. Also, I find the shade of their background color to be subpar.

WMTW Channel 8 -

I find the WMTW website to be pretty plain-jane, similar to their broadcasts, but I think it works. They have the most national news and fewest amount of advertisements on the home page. I like how they don't have an annoying background color also. They lose big points for their weather page. It is way too busy and is kind of scary. The picture of Matt Zidle is scary, too.

WGME Chanel 13 -

WGME has a good mix of news, weather, and shameless self promotion on their main page. I visit this one most often, as it loads quickly and I like their weather page. This channel excels in sensationalism, which keeps most of their content interesting. They are constantly updating the top portion of the home page with some 'breaking story.' There isn't a ton of sensational news in Maine, so I applaud the amount of effort it must take to write their stories. While they are located in suburban Portland (WGME and WCSH6 are right downtown), they do a good job at having a kinda 'big city' vibe.

Here is my ranking of these 3, best to worst:

1. WGME - Easy on the eyes, good content.

2. WMTW - The little train that could, except for the weather page

3. WCSH6 - I actually watch them on TV more than the other 2, but I strongly dislike the site.

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