Any Way You Like It  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  Drop Cap
From AJR,   April 2000

Any Way You Like It   

By Greg Simmons
     



T HE 6 O'CLOCK NEWS is no longer a collection of spoon-fed items but a tailored menu of news, thanks to the people at Zatso.com.
Web surfers can log on to Zatso--which launched its personalized newscast February 1--and select the news they want to see from a number of local TV stations across the country. And if you missed the news, it's not a problem, says Kendall Talley, creative services director at WNEM-5 in Flint, Michigan, a Zatso partner. "You can catch it anytime."
Putting the newscast together is a daily process. Local TV stations contact Zatso news directors in the morning, alerting them to their major stories for the day. Zatso picks a few stories from each station to post. When the local newscast hits the airwaves, the video is simultaneously fed over the Internet to Zatso in San Francisco. Within an hour and a half, Zatso adds the selected video segments to its site, along with additional related content. That information comes from wire services such as Reuters and Bloomberg News, or from the site itself, such as Zatso-created pop quizzes.
Anyone with Internet capabilities can log on to Zatso. Users can pick a TV station from the list if desired and choose categories of news, such as business or sports. They can even block out violent or graphic stories. The viewers' picks produce a mix of news from local broadcasts and wire services.
There are limitations, however, including the number of stations on Zatso's roster and the speed of the user's Internet connection. Zatso spokesman Joshua Weinberg said in March that the site had partnered with 30 local stations and several TV news services. The company plans to add more to that list.
Zatso makes its revenue from advertising, Weinberg says. No money changes hands between Zatso and its partner local news stations or their owners--such as Meredith Corp., E.W. Scripps and Allbritton Communications Co.
This personalized newscast is a solution for a branch of the news industry that hasn't utilized the Internet to its fullest extent, says Mark Voorhees, network/desktop administrator for Phoenix's KPHO-TV, a Zatso partner. TV stations can focus on their expertise--covering news, Voorhees says, while Zatso focuses on its expertise--getting the stations on the Internet.
WNEM's Talley says there is a very simple reason the Zatso model should catch on: "Who wouldn't want to spend 10 minutes watching the news they're interested in, instead of spending 30 minutes" watching a newscast that ignores their news needs? he asks. "It's really a new way of looking at news."

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