Well, how quickly a semester goes by and how quickly my view of the Daily Beast has changed. Its quite fitting that as I write my last official post, the tabloidisation of the Daily Beast that I have commented on for the last few weeks has reached its peak since I began following the site back in late January.
I mean is this a news blog or a place to buy Armani products, also Yemen disintegrates further into chaos as does Syria, Libya is in an all out civil War, with talk of French and British troops actually going in on the ground to accompany aid shipments but one of the most prominent stories you can see when you go to the homepage is an article about pieces of food that apparently feature celebrities faces.
The main page also features aricles on Ben Stiller, celebrity branded booze, stars who smoked weed and a video piece on kids reactions to Charlie Sheen. I mean where are you supposed to get some actual news on the site.
There is however, a very good piece on Tim Hetherington, the veteran war photographer who was killed in Misurata this week. The Beast has acouple of his photo galleries on their site including collections of photograph’s from Afghanistan and Ground Zero on 9/11.
I think the Beast has the potential to be a great site but sadly they seem more concerned with celeb gossip and advertiser than with journalism. Any of the articles written by the Beast’s own reporters are always informative, well researched and present different angles to stories. I will occasionally continue to check the Beast but when I want more updated news and better analysis I will go to places like Al Jazeera, the BBC, the Huffington Post and the Guardian. I just don’t think the Daily Beast is at their level yet, and its unlikely they will ever be able to compete with such sites for hard news if the Beast continues on the track its on.
Another massive flaw I found with the Beast, that I hope they can remedy is the use of some of the features on the website such as The Big Fat Story feature, effectively a story map. This in my opinion is the best feature on the site but it hasn’t been updated since the Chilean miners were rescued. Another little feature, “Read This, Skip That” has been hijacked by advertisements, while their video section is difficult to find. I really hope they look into these issues and give more prominence to their own staff’s articles.
Its been emotional!!!
Even thoughI have noticed a slight tabloidization of the Daily Beast, which is manifesting itself through the increasing presence of articles such as this piece on the trend of celebrities naming their child, Henry. Another story given prominence on the Beast this week is a gallery on “The Best Celebrity Twit Pics“.
The Beast’s Read This Skip that feature, which scrolls throgh the top 9 stories, alowing you to select whatever story you want contains a link to read your horoscope, and features a certain celebrity who is celebrating their birthday, this week its Seth Rogen.
The Beast’s section dedicated to Celebrity goings on is called Sexy Beast , the articles from this section seem to becoming more visible on the homepage of the Daily Beast. It may be possible that the Beast is trying to widen its audience, maybe because of pressure from advertisers or even Newsweek who merged with the website.
People seeking hard news and analysis shouldn#t be too worried, the Beast’s staff writers are continuing to provide some great articles. Babak Dehghanpisheh does a great piece on the Libyan Rebels and attempts to answer the question on everbodys lips, exactly who are the rebels that the NATO is helping with bombing. Some people have questioned the possibility of some rebels having links to Al Qaeda and some certainly have trained in Afghanistan. Its good to see that even though the inklings of a dumbing down of the Beast have begun to surface, the website appears to remain committed to providing quality journalism.
As the the crisis in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Japan continue, a new story has been slowly building in the last few months. A story that the majority of the media are choosing to ignore. I’m talking of course abot the fighting that has engulfed the West African nation of the Ivory Coast.
The country was thrown into dissaray last year following a presidential election, which the opposition candidate won. The incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo simply refused to reluinquish power and merely stayed on as president. The internationally recognised President, Alassane Outtara was holed up in a hotel, effectively governing nothing but his own followers. In the last week, Outtara and his rebel forces sprang into action and within five days had taken up to 80% of the country.
The fighting has now reached the countries biggest city, Abidjan, the administrative and financial centre of Ivory Coast. Abdijan although not officially the capital is the key to controlling the country and the fighting has become so intense that French Troops have stationed themselves at the cities airport and the UN Secretary General, Ban KI-Moon has called for an investigation into an alleged massacre by Outtara’s followers in the town of Duekoue. It is believed that 800 people were killed in the space of 24 hours.
What is happening in the Ivory Coast is a massive story, not just in Africa bt worldwide and the Western press has show its usual indfifference to events sub-saharan Africa. The Dail Beast featured one story about the crisis in the Ivory Coast, which is more that can be said for other sites sch as the New York Times and Boston.com.
The story appears in the Beast’s Cheat Sheet, which is a list of popular stories taken from numerous sources. On further inspection, the majority of the sources are from US media outlets such as AP, MSNBC, the Washington Post etc. I think its time the Beast sourced news from further afield. It is neglecting sources such as the BBC, Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera.
The latter proving over the past few months that it is at the forefront when it comes to international coverage. Al Jazeera along with the BBC are consistently up to date with the amazing events that have been happening across the Middle East and Africa in the past few months and always have a good mix of breaking news, analysis and multimedia coverage.
The Beast has been doing some interesting stuff when it comes to the war in Libya, over the last few weeks they have looked at the somewhat lighter side and have done some entertaining articles and photo galleries such as their recent stars who hang with dictators
piece as well as their gallery on dictators hideouts.
I really liked the dictators hideout gallery as it gave some information about the person in question, where they went and why. It covers everybody from Hitler to Napolean Bonaparte and even raises some questions about Saudi Arabia’s tendency to allow austed dictators to settle there.
Here you can see Nicolae Ceausescu’s hideout in Romania.
However I can’t help but feel there is a tabloidization going on at the Beast and there is a lack of real substance in their coverage. I mean if you take Al jazeera who have live blog updates from Libya and Syria, you would wonder why bother going to the Beast at all. Yes they are offering some entertaining stuff but is it really enough. I constantly find myself going to Al Jazeera when I want to find out exactly what is going on in the Middle East. Yes Al Jazeera is a news network and no doubt has the manpower needed for extensive coverage but if the Daily Beast is an aggregator site, why not take live updates from other news sources.
I mean there isn’t a whole lot wrong with the Beast’s coverage but I just wonder how updated it really is. The headline on the Beast today was, “Libya and Syria in revolt”, tell us something we don’t know.
If the Huffington Post can have a live update, why can’t the Beast. The post’s update comes from different press agencies around the world and they have it scroll across the top of their page, surely the Beast could do something similar.
The two big stories of the last fortnight have been the Tsunami in Japan and the resulting nuclear disaster and the war in Libya. The Japanese tsunami stole the news focus from every other story when it happened but since the West decided to intervene in Libya by imposing a no fly zone and bombing Tripoli, the war in the North African country is firmly back in the media’s focus and the Daily Beast has been doing a good job covering it.
Apart from some good analysis about whether the intervention is legal and the influence Bosnia has had on US intervention they have also done some quite different articles including one looking at the name of the operation, “Odyssey Dawn” and the mechanisms that go into naming military operations.
They also featured a hilarous quiz, which asks you to guess whether a photograph is a picture of Gaddafi or a hotel doorman.
However, The Beast seems to be lacking in video when it comes to Libya but they more than make up for it with their coverage of Japan. The Beast has compiled a page featuring all the most compelling photographs and videos of the disaster from across the internet, including this unbelievable footage of an explosion at the Fukushima Nuclear plant.
So I’ve been tracking The Daily Beast for around 6 weeks now and to be honest, every week I’m finding less and less features to keep me occupied. Yes the news the Beast has is informative and wide ranging and they do some great analysis of stories but you can find good articles anywhere. I’m struggling to find things on the beast to keep me on the site, even their video section is left wanting, especially when it comes to Libya.
The latest feature I found is called Buzz Board, it works like this, a list of famous influential people such as authors, journalists ect giving their opinions and recommendations on completely random stuff. You have a designer recommeding a certain lipstick, directly underneath is a musician and entrepreneur posting his favourite recipe and Nancy Grace recommending nothing. I’m just not sure what the point of this feature is. I just wish they would update the few current features they have and maybe add a few new ones.
But its not all bad, I must say fair play to the Beast for their Charlie Sheen section. Its full of all sorts of everything from the star who is clearly having a public meltdown and intent of making a tit of himself, and my god is it entertaining.
A really cool feature on the Daily Beast is their Big Fat Story section. It combines pictures from different elements of a news story and features mini articles explaining each picture to form a story map. But the main issue I have with this nice feature is the beast doesn’t use it enough.
The last time they actually put one together was at the beginning of October last year. Why hasn’t one been used for the protests across the Middle East, if ever there was a story more suitable to this feature it is the current events in Egypt, Libya and across Northern Africa and Middle East. So come on guys, you got a great feature for news analysis, get your finger out and use it.
Another thing that I’ve noticed in the last two weeks is the presence of huge advertisements at the top of the Daily Beast’s homepage, this is awful in my opinion. When an advertisement is larger than the main news headline you have a serious problem. The first thing I see when I get to the the homepage is an Audi being assembled, only after do i notice that the Tunisian Prime Minister has resigned. I’m not saying the Beast should go the way of the Huffington Post with their oversized headlines but I go to this site for news, not to watch ads for stuff I can’t afford.