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OMG! Star Tribune relaunches ‘NewsBreak’

When the Star Tribune cut back its much-mocked vidcast “NewsBreak” to two days a week this summer, I figured it was the beginning of the end.

But the cynical media critic was wrong! As promised, it’s back and … better.

Never fear, haters: there are still some public-access production values to jeer at, and this viewer remains more interested in the idea of NewsBreak — the quest, if you will — than the actual execution. I also still fear a scripted newscast from non-newscasters remains a big time-waster in a shrunken newsroom. But let’s discuss the improvements first:

Lileks and Lopez on the spooky new set
Lileks and Lopez on the spooky new set

1. They’ve decoupled headlines from the rest of the show.

2. The headline segment, a tidy 80 seconds, focuses on things that happened that morning. I’m the sort of person who likes to read the headlines, not watch someone reading them, but if you’re wired this way, it works.

3. The graphics, while simple, work.

4. The headline-reading host (James Lileks today) is framed pleasantly by a newsroom that looks like actual people work there. For some reason, this was not the case before. And for some reason, it’s not the case elsewhere (see below).

5. The longer segment, at least today, clicks right away with a pretty good debrief from political editor Pat Lopez, on the Sex Offender big-screen TV story. I’ve urged more of these, and this one flowed nicely.

6. A better job integrating video elsewhere on the site (Goldy Gopher mocking a praying Penn State football player). NewsBreak is obviously to promote the daily “greatest hits” package, and that’s fine.

The rotten tomatoes?

1. The long-segment backdrop looks like Lileks and Lopez are inside one of those black plastic leaf bags that are about to be banned. I get that it’s supposed to highlight the big screen TV monitor (non-sex-offender model), but Lileks is too perky to be trapped in Dracula’s Lair. Cable access touch #1.

2. Please, God, please: lose the life-force-draining “Your Voices” promo. Those people look like drugged or animatronic. Cable access touch #2.

3. Seven minutes for a video segment still feels way too long.

4. The hosts are still fish out of water, and this still feels more conventional and dutiful than original and inspired.

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Karl Pearson-Cater on 10/20/2009 - 03:24 pm.

    Rotten tomatoes #5 and #6: Still can’t embed the video? Still can’t subscribe to the podcast?

  2. Submitted by Chuck Olsen on 10/20/2009 - 03:50 pm.

    I think it looks fine, though now I can’t get “Dracula’s Lair” out of my head. Thanks a lot, Brauer!

    And yeah, why not share this video? They haven’t created a product so great that I’m going to seek it out on the Strib site, so they should try to make this as shareable, spreadable and delicious as possible. (Please note, I like spreading my news video on toasted bagels.)

  3. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 10/20/2009 - 04:02 pm.

    I can’t forget — or forgive — that you called Lileks “perky.”


  4. Submitted by karl anderson on 10/20/2009 - 04:51 pm.

    With all the local tv newspeople getting laid off, the Strib should pick a few up. Can you imagine the publicity????

    OR head to the U of M, and grab a student who is interested in broadcasting.

    There is nothing worse in the history of broadcast than the clowns I had to watch growing up in Alexandria, MN. That is back when we had one tv channel…

    They’ll smooth things out.

  5. Submitted by John Reinan on 10/20/2009 - 05:26 pm.

    Karl: You mean, like Bud Gorham?

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