ABC News still fit for Web

Network supports pioneering online newscast

Rumors of the demise of ABC News' pioneering Web newscast have been greatly exaggerated.

ABC News confirmed that the 2-year-old webcast is alive and well amid an overall revamp of the show's Web presence.

The 15-minute webcast, with "World News" anchor Charles Gibson, is available live on ABCNews.com and via an iTunes podcast soon after it is produced at 3 p.m. ET weekdays. It differs from its rivals in that it's produced specifically for the Web, three hours or so before the "World News" telecast.

Regularly one of the top video newscasts on iTunes, with about 600,000 daily downloads, it's been difficult to determine how many people who download it actually watch, which has provided an advertising challenge. That led to reports this year that the news division would dump the webcast, something ABC News execs say was never a consideration.

The network is pressing ahead, believing it's the right thing to do and finding a lot of value with the technology that allows webcast viewers to not only watch front to back but to jump to the stories they are most interested in.

"It's really geared toward the digital audience that wants to be the ultimate decider of what order they watch it," "World News" executive producer Jon Banner said.

Meanwhile, "World News" isn't resting on its Web cred. Today it unveils a newly redesigned Web site that includes a "World Newser" blog, frequent contributions from senior staff and a daily contribution by Gibson.

For the past several weeks, the broadcast has soft launched a "World Newser" blog that includes frequent posting by the newscast's senior producers with their take on the day's events.

"What it really is, is a one-stop shop for news fanatics about what's happening right now in the country and the world," Banner said. "It's our view of things. It doesn't shy away from having a voice and a take on the world."

Beginning today, the blog will include Gibson's musings from the Democratic National Convention. The anchorman said that he initially had some misgivings.

"I've been reluctant about a blog, not for any other reason that I worry that they become a little self-serving and somewhat narcissistic," he said. "I've resisted it in the past. I'm not sure I won't fall into the same trap."

Gibson said he's going to be guided by the truth and promises to be "pretty frank." He isn't going to shy away from airing some of the broadcast's "dirty laundry," if that's what strikes him to write about.

"If I think we screwed up (on the broadcast), I'm going to say that," Gibson said. "If we left out something out of a piece that we shouldn't have, I'm going to say that too." (partialdiff)
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