Yahoo Merging TV News with Ultra-Reality TV

    September 15, 2005

Yahoo is about to introduce its version of the future of news broadcasting, a precursor to future offerings from the newly formed Yahoo Media division.

Starting on September 26, veteran war correspondent Kevin Sites will begin broadcasting coverage of the world’s war-zones exclusively through the Yahoo Media Group. The first of several TV like programs to be produced by the Yahoo Media Group, Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone will be sent to three dozen different war zones over the next year.

Using a backpack and a notebook as his production studio, Sites plans to carry up to 40lb of computer and satellite gear into conflict zones. He wants to show the human side of armed conflicts by speaking to the people most affected by war, innocent civilians. One episode will be based on the destruction seen by a family in war-ravaged Somalia .

Sites became world famous last autumn when footage he filmed of a US marine shooting a wounded Iraqi fighter in a Fallouja mosque was aired on NBC news. At the time, Sites felt the NBC report did not inform its audience of the full context in which the event took place, as noted in a November 21, 2004 post to his Kevin Sites Blog .

That event, along with other constraints imposed by the nature of network journalism convinced Sites to look for an alternative means of reporting on conflicts.

“As journalists we have to take full responsibility for our work, and sometimes the medium we work in isn’t enough,” Sites says on his blog.

Yahoo is betting on two trends to sustain this form of broadcasting. The first is the growth of the Yahoo Search Marketing and Yahoo Publisher Network divisions and the second is the transition away from traditional media among younger viewers.

“It’s not that young people aren’t interested in news – it’s just that they’re increasingly unfulfilled by traditional delivery of news,” said Jack MacKenzie, senior vice president of entertainment at Frank N. Magid Associates, a media consulting firm told the LA Times. The Kevin Sites program “seems to have all the elements that would be appealing to the millennial generation for which Yahoo is so popular.”

Yahoo Search Marketing will serve paid-search advertisements along with news and entertainment features produced by Yahoo Media. Meanwhile, the Yahoo Publisher Network will eventually give web publishers the ability to work Yahoo produced content into their own websites.

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