This week brought the debut of the Hambycast, a weekly series through the lens of CNN’s Peter Hamby. The digital episode has Hamby on the ground, talking to regular people and Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) as the Governor tours the nation in preparation for an expected 2016 presidential run. The report is short, roughly two minutes, and devoid of punditry. It’s a return to old school journalism thanks to new age technology.
CNN Digital Studios co-produced the Hambycast and also makes other bite-size news reports. In several ways, watching CNN’s video page is like viewing video news of the future. Short, informative, and interesting. For the viewer’s convenience, the next video starts right up, almost like one is binge-watching on Hulu or Netflix. Although, I can’t say I’m all too eager for a future of a two minute video then a thirty second advertisement. That seems a bit much, especially if the advertisements are irreverent or repeating frequently.
Television news, especially today, tries to increase ratings by going after soft stories and/or having conflict on hard ones. The easiest way is to have two pundits yell at each other while the anchor scribbles on his or her script. This is also one of the cheapest ways. Actually delivering the headlines can garner ratings, however it is quite expensive and can lead to a CNN effect on ratings, up in breaking news and low for anytime else. In addition, only so many stories can be fit in as channels are increasingly divided into independently-minded shows, rather than a network of programming.
This is the joy of the Internet. Websites can be something different to various readers. While CNN is a good example of this, the most notable example would be BuzzFeed. While many people go on to see which character of a 1990s sitcom they would be or fruits that look like Dave Franco, there are also many readers who come for the original journalism. BuzzFeed is increasingly writing long form journalism that you won’t find elsewhere. This strategy has led to BuzzFeed to become one of the most popular sites on the Internet.
After I watched the Hambycast, I saw a series that Dr. Sanjay Gupta has about living to 100. The short talked about sleep patterns and it was one of the most informative two minutes I’ve seen in quite awhile. Meanwhile, CNN has many other readers who didn’t watch the Hambycast nor the good doctor. They were off reading about the California drought or the enjoying the Eatocracy blog. CNN’s digital offerings have something for everyone simultaneously, as opposed to CNN television which offers only one thing at a time.
This week when Parts Unknown or some other Original Series repeat airs, fear not news-lovers, we’ll have a home online.