Although KCCI.com, the Web site of CBS affiliate KCCI-TV in Des Moines, has a small staff, the newsroom treats the site as integral to the operation. Breaking news is published immediately, stories are updated with frequency, and the result is that unique viewers visit the site at a rate of more than half a million per month.
Those viewers were glued to the site in mid-November when five Iowans were killed in a small plane crash in Indiana. Web users could access basic facts about the plane, view a photo of the type of plane that crashed and read profiles of the crash victims.
KCCI.com Managing Editor Leah Betancourt said the story was “a great example of online and TV newsroom convergence,” adding that one challenge to the story-telling was “trying to package value-added content in a simple presentation without having Web site visitors drill down too much.”
Neighbors said they couldn’t see anything in the farm fields at night, but they knew a plane had crashed. They didn’t see any flames or smell any smoke. … A local farmer harvested several rows of corn so crews could get to the scene. The wreckage is strewn over several hundred feet. Investigators are literally picking up the pieces of the airplane. Now it’s up to them to piece together what caused this fatal crash.
Betancourt said the most gratifying aspect of online journalism is that “it’s so dynamic. There’s also a high level of interactivity with the audience, and you can also see how traffic is doing with metrics and then tweak things to find something that strikes a chord with the audience.”