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July 22, 2006

ABC to Drop Temporality from Title of Flagship News Show

NBC isn't the only network news division that's embracing a transmedia approach to the news-reporting process that takes advantage of the "convergence culture" we're always writing about here at C3. Last week, I wrote about NBC's current changes to better reflect a transmedia approach to its nightly news program.

But, as I wrote about a couple of months ago, ABC News has also pushed aggressively into the transmedia market, first with working in tandem with BBC News in bringing more international news to its Web site and now, this week, with making great alterations to its approach to news, even changing the name of its flagship news program, the evening news broadcast.

ABC News' news program, which has been called World News Tonight for almost three full decades, will be taking the "tonight" from its program to better reflect a transmedia news process which incorporates more than just the 30-minute evening news broadcast. The new program, which will be called World News with Charles Gibson, both attempts to highlight the personality of the host while also diminishing the connotation of the show's temporality. And, as news shows have found in the past and as HDNet is hoping is the case with Dan Rather, highlighting the personality of the anchor almost always helps develop a flavor for the show. Now that ABC has chosen a steady anchor, it hopes to drive forward with its new direction in a multiplatform news approach.

The news producers are already offering an afternoon Web cast in addition to the nightly news broadcast and offers continuous news updates through its online site, similar to that of other news networks. However, the news division is pushing the envelope even further in creating a 24-hour online news presence.

The news site offers a great volume of videos and segments from prior broadcasts, as well as constant streaming of the ABC News Now channel, a 24-hour news network that is also being pushed to be made available on cable and satellite. ABC is also pushing the envelope in developing news for the mobile platform.

I've written about it quite a bit in the past week, but this push just further strengthens the ability of the television news facilities to give better coverage to viewers. Sure, there are plenty of anti-convergence people out there in journalism, and I've encountered many of them. But the true best use of a transmedia, multi-platform approach to covering news isn't to diminish the quality and increase the quantity of product but rather to give citizens the best news coverage possible, using as many different platforms as possible and fully utilizing the strengths of each.

And, while the changes in ABC's approach may not the be the only attributable factor, the network's approach to news is causing a rising improvement. For the past few weeks, Gibson has taken the thrown from Brian Williams and NBC as having the top-rated evening news show. If this is any indication, making these extra products available to keep viewers informed heightens instead of diminishes the support and loyalty of evening news viewers.

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