New York Times Woefully Mis-Cast in Role of TV Network

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Does The New York Times (NYT) have a future as a television network? Not on the evidence of TimesCast, the short-form daily video program the paper introduced on its website Monday.

The webcast -- plans for which were first reported by DailyFinance -- goes live on nytimes.com every day between 1 and 2 p.m. to take advantage of the early-afternoon spike in video consumption. It highlights the big news stories of the day, following them through the eyes of the Times journalists covering them.

And the view through those eyes is boring. Deeply boring. As a piece of cinema verite, TimesCast succeeds. It faithfully captures the aesthetics of life in a newsroom -- the queasy lighting, the unflattering hairstyles, the droning story meetings. What it doesn't have are any of the elements that viewers have come to expect from TV news: lively pacing, polished delivery, dynamic visuals. It's easy to make fun of the soulless slickness and seizure-inducing hyperactivity of modern-day news shows, especially cable news shows, but TimesCast shows you what they would be without it: C-SPAN, basically. Only duller.

Oh, and did I mention that the two episodes produced so far are each over six minutes long? Trust me, you will find yourself checking your email after the first 30 seconds. I did.

No doubt there were plenty of earnest discussions within the Times about the importance of producing programming that's true to the paper's stolid, earnest sensibility and eschews the lurid bells and whistles of Fox News and CNN. TimesCast is that programming. Unfortunately, it's death to sit through. If they want anyone at all to watch it, they're going to have to sex it up, fast.


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