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Friday, 30 January, 2009

The face of news in South Africa is changing as Eyewitness News launches its own world-class website.

Eyewitness News, or EWN, the dynamic news service that feeds Primedia Broadcasting’s radio stations – Talk Radio 702, 567 CapeTalk, 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 94.5 Kfm – has built a reputation as a source of up-to-the-minute, credible news. This reputation is set to grow as EWN launches its own innovative, interactive website to steer its evolution into an independent brand.

“Eyewitness News is made possible by a team of incredible journalists who are committed to truth, justice and exposing wrongdoings,” said Katy Katopodis, editor in chief. “We live by the philosophy of being in touch, in tune and independent and the website is the next step in fulfilling this goal.”

“We believe it’s one-of-a-kind in South Africa, she said, “It’s user-friendly, very interactive and there’s a strong emphasis on multi-media so each story has a photograph and there’s a lot of video content.”

“There’s a synergy between radio and online that doesn’t exist with other media as you can consume both simultaneously,” said Ryan Till, Primedia Broadcasting’s COO, explaining some of the motivations behind the new site.

“Eyewitness News already has an audience of 3 million people through the radio stations, and these listeners have always been a critical element of the newsgathering process – talk radio particularly has called for listeners views to drive content for years and the website builds on that relationship. The website is a great tool to make readers and listeners the eyes and ears of our newsroom – we’ve already had some great success with iWitness news as users sent in some great footage of recent floods.”

Katopodis agreed, “Although our formal news team is based at the studios in Joburg and Cape Town, everyone is an Eyewitness News reporter. The site has a dedicated section for iWitness News, and we encourage listeners and readers to post their news stories, photos and video clips here.”

On the look and feel of the site, Till explained, “It’s a one-shot home page, so visitors get a holistic picture of the day’s news, including headlines, visuals and multimedia content, without having to click through anywhere. We’ve taken our lead from the news bulletins on air, so there is clear focus on the important news, and we’ve kept the content really tight. We deliberately avoided lengthy stories that require extensive scrolling.

For those who are interested in certain issues, there are options for more in-depth analysis and interpretation. “We consider this the ‘added value’ information, which gives the background material to help users understand the headlines and relates it to user’s lives,” said Till.

If it’s breaking news that’s needed, as it happens, Eyewitness News launched a breaking news alert service on Thursday 8th January, and within two weeks, 7 000 subscribers had signed up to receive these alerts on their mobile phones. This marked a milestone in the digital evolution of the EWN brand, a successful follow-up to the website, which brings users the same credible news, 24-7 at www.ewn.co.za.

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