1. Look at how the same story is covered in your local
newspaper, on a
local television newscast, and on the web site of both the newspaper
and the television station. How do these stories differ in depth? How
are visuals used in each medium? Is the Internet just repeating the
content from other media, or does it include unique content?
Department of Transportation banned commercial drivers from texting while
driving nationally on Tuesday. As a highway user, I'm ecstatic about this
development. I'm only disappointed that news outlets didn't raise awareness by
making a bigger deal of it--it wouldn't hurt for texting while driving to be
banned for all drivers.
Of all the media channels that I followed the story in, the Star Tribune newspaper had the most comprehensive story. This may have to do with the fact that they didn't have to break the news, having published the story the day after it happened. The Star Tribune's six-graf story included a bit of history on the issue, noting that Obama recently banned government employees from texting while driving, as well as a briefing on Minnesota's texting and driving laws. It balanced quotations from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with the American Truck Association's response to the law. This story included a sidebar graphic that highlighted the important statistics, along with a picture of a person texting.
WCCO's news at 5 p.m. Tuesday gave a minute-long snapshot of the story. Because of the nature of broadcast, it is unsurprising that WCCO didn't go into the same detail that the Star Tribune did. Most of the visuals were stock footage of cars and trucks on the highway, but the story also included footage from an interview with the transportation secretary. It contained what I consider to be the most important facts from the Star Tribune's article. At the end, the anchors encouraged viewers to share their thoughts on WCCO's website.
The Internet sites of both the Star Tribune and WCCO gave stripped-down and repetitive versions of the story. The Tuesday story on the Star Tribune's website, however, added an analogy that I thought would have been poignant in broadcast: that texting while driving at 55 mph is often the equivalent of driving a football field without looking at the road. Neither site makes impressive use of graphics. The Star Tribune's site lacks them, providing only a link to the Transportation Department and a comment box in the way of interactive Web features. WCCO's site has a photo of a cell phone and also allows comments. I'm surprised that the Star Tribune hasn't turned their more comprehensive print-version story into a Web-friendly multimedia story yet.