Sky's new online video bulletin accepts web reality

Sky News has launched its first web-only news bulletin: Martin Stanford presents a six-minute dash through the headlines, with a bit of shameless YouTubing. (If that isn’t already a word, it should be.) Hugh Westbrook’s post on the Sky editors’ blog doesn’t actually say it’s going to be a daily thing, but that’s certainly the implication.

The choice of lead stories is a bit on the low-brow side – Madeleine McCann, Pete Doherty, ‘Bond girl Jane Seymour’ (?!), the National Lottery… and not a single mention for the day’s biggest ‘proper’ story, foot and mouth. But take a look at the ‘most popular stories’ lists on any website, even the hallowed BBC, and you’ll see this is what people actually read online.

The ‘yoof’-style editing reminds me, ironically enough, of the BBC’s recently-axed StoryFIX, which was trying to do something similar… albeit a bit more quirky, and a bit less newsy. With that in mind, I’m not sure I’d have chosen Martin Stanford to present it. Leaving aside his genuine interest in all things technological, Martin is now one of the more ‘serious’ presenters on the channel, probably second only to Jeremy Thompson in terms of gravitas. This deliberately flimsy content isn’t his natural territory, and despite his best efforts, it shows. The rather conventional screen makeup – newsreader’s head and shoulders, studio set with a map backdrop, big strap across the bottom – seems a bit too ‘TV’, too.

It’ll be intriguing to see how this project goes forward. It’s an attempt to produce a ‘news bulletin’ which accepts the reality of the web audience’s (dumbed-down?) interests, and will sit alongside the ‘proper’ headlines. Is online video just a distribution channel for existing TV material, or is it a distinct medium which requires a different editorial approach? The relative traffic levels may reveal all.