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'The News Show' puts editors in anchor chair

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One day this past March, Mike Azzara, VP-group director of Internet business for CMP Media, sat down in the office of Paul Way, associate publisher-Webcasting, and declared: "We need to do a video news broadcast every day." After realizing that Azzara was serious-and didn't want to wait-Way started researching what type of equipment and staffing would be necessary.

"Within two months, we had identified the hardware and software, bought it, identified 17 editors who could act as TV correspondents in addition to their print and online responsibilities, and named an anchor for the show," Way said. On May 18, the unsuspecting editors were invited to a hush-hush meeting in CMP's Manhassett, N.Y., headquarters, where their laptops were commandeered before they entered the meeting room.

Once the doors were closed, the editors were introduced to the concept for "The News Show," which Azzara and Way conceived as a humorous, opinionated, in-the-know view of the news, industry leaders, conferences and events, and new technology. John Soat, tapped as anchor, was a 15-year InformationWeek veteran and the magazine's editor. Soat was also known within CMP for his ability to do stand-up comedy routines on IT topics.

After the presentation, the newly appointed "News Show" correspondents got back their laptops, which had already been loaded with video editing software. They also received personal Webcams and handy peripherals, such as green screens. The training started then and there.

The first show aired June 20, almost exactly a month later.

"We couldn't do a daily news show if we didn't do it with our in-house staff," Way said, adding that learning to use the hardware and software didn't seem too difficult for a group of tech-savvy editors working for InformationWeek, InternetWeek, Network Computing, and other titles in the CMP TechWeb Network.

Each show, which runs for the first time each weekday at noon ET, lasts six to eight minutes, including up to two 30-second commercial spots. In addition to Soat's introduction and wrap-up, the reporters provide three short segments of two minutes or less. So, with roughly 20 correspondents, each editor should only be responsible for three to four segments a month, said Way, adding that the editors "are getting better every day" as they become more experienced with the Webcams and editing software.

Way said this gung-ho approach to broadband video is emblematic of CMP's approach to online business over the last 12 months. "We are very consciously making significant investments online," he said. "In the past, we were more likely to wait and see, to let others take the big risks first. Now, we're committed to pushing the envelope in new media."

That investment also includes the proprietary technology that powers the media player, Way said. Like many other players, CMP's has the advertiser's logo displayed throughout the program. But an unusual element is the lead-generation capability that's built in.

If the viewer clicks on the words "free downloads" on the lower right-hand corner of the player, next to the advertiser's logo, he will link to a landing page where he is asked to put in his e-mail address. "If we have him in our database, he can immediately click through and download a free white paper, and we already have all the information to turn over to the advertiser as a lead," Way said. If the person isn't in the database yet, he has to register. "So, the show is free to watch, and we get about 35,000 views each day, which is great for branding, but we also have lead generation," Way said.

The "News Show" is sold to advertisers on a weekly basis for a flat fee of $7,500 rather than a CPM basis. Three months after the debut, Way said, "We're already profitable."

-Marie Griffith

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