Sunday, January 25, 2009

Washington Post Online and PBS

Friday was the final day of meetings for the trip, without the inclusion of the Library of Congress tour yesterday morning. It feels like just yesterday, I was packing my suitcase to leave snowy Spokane to head to New York City. The meeting I found most enjoyable on Friday was with Chet Rhodes of the Washington Post Online. I am really interested in how the internet has affected newspapers and journalism in general. Like most people we’ve spoken to on the trip, he did not feel that online journalism would replace print any time soon. At the same time, the Washington Post is expending a lot of effort on making their website innovative and useful. Time and money are spent on researching their audience, testing the navigation ease for the site, and polling their online readers. Navigating and packaging are important to get people to read the articles. They’ve also created something called “Time Space,” which shows pictures, videos, and news articles on a map of where they were taken, or the place they were written about. They used it extensively for inauguration activities, showing what was going on around DC. It’s a really cool idea.

We also visited Paula Kerger, the president and CEO of PBS on Friday afternoon. She was very nice, but it was slightly intimidating to talk to her. I think it is great that PBS is doing so much to get educational programming for kids on television. I know that when I was a kid, I loved watching PBS. One of my favorites was Arthur, and there was an afternoon program on called Zoom that I watched a lot. Most of PBS viewers are under age five, or over fifty, so a lot of work is focused on kids. They have interactive games online that are educationally based. They’re working with child development psychologists to figure out how young kids relate to television and are trying to create an interactive experience that’s also educational. I’m glad that there is still programming on for children that is wholesome, appropriate, and educational. It seems like these days, kids are watching Hannah Montana, which does nothing to increase their intelligence. I hope that these educational programs are still readily available when I have children.

Maddie Hayes

1 comment:

  1. The real problem Public Broadcasting Service faces is the stiff competition cable television provides their younger viewing base. As you mentioned, programs like Hannah Montana and the reality television-laden Music Television have begun to lure in young audiences. PBS has to ask themselves this question: why would people want to watch our educational programming when they can watch sports, music or comedy? Younger viewers go to school and read textbooks all day; why should they go home and be forced to learn too? If viewers can see programs on channels specifically targeting their interests, why would they watch something they may not care about? When PBS answers these questions through accessibility and interest of programming, the eyeballs of young viewers will return. Kerger's best strategy may be the programming utilized by teachers in the classroom, where video and multimedia may have a better reach to students than traditional forms of learning.

    -Derek Casanovas


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