Browsing the site, not asking the questions

MSNBC: Onscreen bridesmaid, online bride? Today the NYT’s Alex Mindlin points out the discrepancy between MSNBC’s online numbers versus their relativelyy paltry TV viewing audience (Tucker, oh Tucker). Apparently MSNBC killed this summer as a website, pulling 26.6 million unique hits, beating CNN and the NYT, but is the network of third-ish resort when it comes to TV news. Mindlin asks why MSNBC rocks the online world but on TV, not so much; unfortunately he answers it with two lipservice-y quotes that aren’t even from MSNBC itself (hello, I’d like to hear what Rick Kaplan has to say on this, wouldn’t you? As long as he keeps his voice down). Instead he quotes an online news consultant Vin Crosbie, who praises MSNBC’s web staff for differentiating content. Doesn’t say much more than that. He also askes Bill Mitchell, editor of Poynter Online, who gives props to the MSNBC blogs and their NOLA coverage. I’m sorry, but that is not enough analysis for such a question: even the most casual reader of TVNewser (or of Fishbowl, for that matter) knows that both MSNBC and CNN differentiate their web content quite a bit (CNN far more aggressively of late) and that Fox, too, uses their webiste to hook in viewers by annointing them FoxFans and such. As for blogs, they’re great but hardly the provence of MSNBC alone (we’ve spent lots of time loving the raw CNN blog during Katrina as well as The Daily Nightly; Fox has, inter alia, the Greta blog which I’d wager helped her soaring ratings a during the Natalee Holloway investigation (I know, it’s not in the past but it sure seems that way doesn’t it?). In any case, this is an interesting topic — very interesting, actually, considering the raging wars for cable net ratings, not to mention all them fightin’ words flung by Jon Klein — and to see it dispensed with so glibly is a disappointment for the reader (well, this reader) but also falls well short of what I’d expect from the Times. The NYT has given Jon Klein its fair share of ink (chekkit here; or read Jacques Steinberg’s 1,591-word assessment, “CNN Seeks New Ways To Battle Fox News” — yay TimesSelect!). The question of why MSNBC fares so well on line in comparison to its TV counterpart deserves that at least some analysis, particularly when Katrina has brought the networks to the fore. (NB to Alex Mindlin: the next time you need some TV expertise, take a tip from Steinberg and ask our TVNewser (even if he doesn’t watch the news). In the meantime, we’d welcome your input on the MSNBC online/onscreen discrepancy. Bonus points if you can work in a reference to Dan Abrams’ hair.

Browsing the Site, Not Watching the Show [NYT]