By Steve Outing
Whew! I’ve finished my annual volunteer judging duties for the EPpy Awards for best work in online news media. (The competition is run by Editor & Publisher and Mediaweek, and results will be announced in May. … I have a long history with the awards, having been the original organizer back in the dark ages of new media — 1996 — and I think been a judge every year since. I might have missed one year; it’s a blur.)
Anyway, this year my category assignment had me looking at lots of multimedia news packages. I’d say, overall, that I continue to observe a steady improvement in the state of the art of multimedia news. However, I continue to observe a couple key weaknesses: handling of photos and videos.
With photos, news sites continue to run them too small. I saw this over and over with the entries I judged. I don’t know why; maybe there’s still fear that too many people still use dial-up connections to the Internet. (My advice: Get over it!)
With videos, so many of the packages I reviewed had tiny video windows. Worse, many of them lacked any controls — no pause button, mute button or volume slider. Ugh. As usual, the entrepreneurs in the video space are doing a better job than established news companies. Take a look at how YouTube and Current TV present their videos, for example. (Not perfect, though; no volume controls.)