CBS News is already late to the party but I still think their intentions are noble. They might have commercial interests at heart but I see an enhanced role and a better viewing experience for the consumer. As they rightly observe, the public has moved to the Internet as the place for more updated information. Especially during times of crisis like 9/11, Columbia disaster, or the more recent London bombings, people have relied on the Internet for news. The availability of free video, photo-sharing like Flickr, and constantly updated information at Wikipedia has made the Internet increasingly reliable. Even the mainstream media has borrowed material from online sources, lending more credibility.
More importantly, the non-linear structure of information on the Internet gives the viewer more flexibility and power and precludes sitting through boring programming to watch the next more interesting program. The viewers can directly click to the video of their choice. Of course, you might end up seeing more people wishing to see pictures of Britney spears rather than breaking news photo coverage of the London Bombing but that if that is what the consumer wants, so be it. The argument against violence on TV/movies influences people is that people actually wish to watch violence rather than other ‘useful stuff’ thus pushing up the demand for violence-dominated TV/movies.
The other aspect of CBS online news section is the incorporation of blogs as a medium to ensure more transparency for its news reporting coverage. They have hired ombudsmen to “represent readers and offer an independent commentary on their reports.” Of course, CBS need credibility check more than ever before especially after the Rathergate scandal tarnished their image. In a field where reputation is everything, they have lot of catching up to do but at least they have started out on the right path. Let us hope they keep at it.