Slacking election night coverage exposes other website flaws

Many people now rely on the Web to get results on election nights. Such Web-savvy folks likely were frustrated with St. Louis’ local TV election-night website coverage.

Viewers would have been unable to find anything on KSDK Channel 5’s website. There was no reference to the election on the station’s main page. A search provided unrelated stories and election results from March 19. A search just for “today” uncovered nothing.

Channel 4’s main page had a big banner, making it easy to get to election results. Unfortunately, there were missing races on the website. The two races Channel 2 referred to, Kirkwood and Ferguson-Florissant, were not listed.

Channel 2’s main page also made it easy to get to results with the large banner at the top. But once the page was accessed, it loaded very slowly.

It’s hoped the TV stations’ Web departments will get their acts together.

Speaking of websites

Whoever designed Channel 5’s new website needs a lesson in what works for ordinary people. It is hard to figure out. Finding stories is nearly impossible. The organization is odd.

At 2:30 p.m. April 9, the top items included:

  • A vigil planned in Effingham for a Fort Hood victim.
  • A promo for Mike Bush’s “Making a Difference” series.
  • News that Missouri Medicaid may restore adult dental care.
  • A junk food study.
  • Where NFL Pro Bowls will be played.
  • A promo for a show about surviving tornadoes.

Below that section is one called “Headlines.” The very first of 12 items was that St. Louis was picked for a hot-dog-eating contest. Next to it, a contest to win my mortgage for a year. By that item was one asking if Albert Pujols can break the all-time home-run record.

Headlines? This was on the same day 20 people had been stabbed at a Pennsylvania high school. Readers had to be lucky to even find that story. It scrolled by in the “featured video” section halfway down the page (requires scrolling). And it was eight of 10. What was the No. 1 featured video on KSDK’s page? “Bella Twins don’t know each other’s favorite apps”:

“Twin models and professional wrestlers, the Bella Twins, can finish each other’s sentences, but do they know each other’s favorite apps?”

Someone there needs to rethink the page, because Channel 5 may bill itself “where the news come first” – but not on the Web, where many people turn to today. There, it is hard to even find the news. (See

Lampkin shines

Channel 5 has a real winner in their newest meteorologist, Chester Lampkin. The St. Louis native has been on the air since February 2013, and he just shines. He has the ability to be serious when the weather is bad and light when the weather is good. He is an excellent conversationalist with all of the anchors. And he can adapt well to whatever might happen on set, such as the wrong graphic showing up on screen. No matter what ad lib an anchor tosses to him, he handles it with style. He displays the kind of approachable personality many people can relate to as they watch him on television. Lampkin has quite a future. Unless he wants to stay in his hometown, he will have his pick of jobs in the future, whether it is a larger market or the Weather Channel. Of the many talented weather people in St. Louis, he is already one of the best.

KMOV weathers the storm nicely

Channel 4 has an often breathless style of news, in which almost every story appears to be vital to viewers. The stories and associated teases are read in an overly dramatic way, and the writing sensationalistic. So that is why the Channel 4 weather department gets kudos for its performance during recent bouts of severe weather. They did not overhype the situation, even as storms became severe. They were professional in their approach – and, while concerned about people’s safety, never tried to panic the audience. When tornado warnings were issued, they did their best to track where it might be and reported it with appropriate urgency. The responsible way they handled the storms added immense credibility to their weather folks. The news department should take notice.

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