Time for the web pioneers to pick sides

From today’s Guardian: Time for the web pioneers to pick sides.

Yahoo has been sending men up mountains. Last week, the portal – which claims to be the world’s biggest, with a user base of more than 345 million – unveiled its latest journalistic enterprise, Richard Bangs Adventures. The five-part multimedia package is produced by the eponymous adventurer, who is following mountaineer John Harlin on an expedition up the same peak that killed his father 40 years ago.
It’s a marvellously well-formed piece of multi- media journalism, and gives the kind of all-encompassing coverage that only the combination of video, audio and text provides. It’s the kind of experience that can only be delivered through a complex channel such as the web.

It goes without saying that this appropriation of other media by and for the internet is not new. Yahoo is only alone in pushing forward in multiple areas. The portal recently announced that it was hiring former CNN and NBC correspondent Kevin Sites to work for it. Sites – who came to prominence writing a weblog of his journeys in Iraq – is travelling to every war zone in the world in a year. His exploits will be tracked through the website Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone (hotzone.yahoo.com).

The idea that Yahoo is interesting in making news, not just repackaging it, should come as no surprise. After all, it is now a vast media empire. But while it’s all very well sending reporters on “dangerous” missions into the unknown, elsewhere the commitment to independent journalism doesn’t seem so secure.

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