Local TV News
A new mobile site brings together local news pages covering about 50 cites in 42 states. The individual sites combine news from local television stations, weather including radar images from the Weather Channel, local movie listings, national sports and stock quotes. Content varies by city with around 50 cities having local news, weather, sports, stocks and movie listings. Another 50 or so cities have "placeholder" sites with no local news or movie listings - just weather, stocks and sports.
The service is the product of LSN Inc. which produces sales and marketing programs for broadcast television stations. They seem to promoting the service as a way for local stations to add a branded mobile site at a relatively low cost.
The site's title, Local TV News implies video to me but so far at at least the site is all text. I think LSN plans on adding streaming news videos eventually. Some of the news stories have links to Video On Demand: Build Your Own Newscast however these links all seem to return a 404 not found error.
The site uses browser detection to deliver wml to wap1 phones or xhtml to those devices that can handle it. The wml and xhtml pages are identical - same text and small gif logos - it would be nice if the extra capabilities of wap2 were exploited to add a bit of color to this very vanilla looking site. The browser detection seem to generally work well, although xhtml was served to my wml only Openwave 4.1 emulator. Seeing as the emulator is not a real device, I can live with that but I think that sites using browser detection should provide alternate urls to force wml or html/xhtml content when browser detection fails.
Although US television news has a mostly deserved reputation for shallow and sensationalist coverage, local news is the prime area in which local stations compete for ratings. Local TV news does tend to focus on sensational crime stories but many of these stations also do real investigative reporting particularly in the consumer area. One can't complain about the quantity of news either at least based on the San Francisco site which has 15 stories averaging 12 screenfulls of text on a typical phone (about 10 column inches in newspaper terms). The stories are not stale, they reflect current TV news coverage.
Content: Usability: wml/xhtml