Monday, February 16, 2009

The Strategy Room Receives a New York Times Profile

Major kudos and props to Mike Straka, executive producer of The Strategy Room, the live-streaming webcast over at, where, as many of you know, I've been privileged to appear regularly during the last two months. (Indeed, I was on The Strategy Room today at 9am and will be back this coming Wednesday at 1pm.)

Several weeks ago, the New York Times sent a reporter to watch a segment (smart of Mike and his canny, trusty booker, Jordan Chariton, to reel in Rev. Al Sharpton and former mayor David Dinkins), and today the Times ran the story.

Here's an excerpt:

Fox is a latecomer to producing live news programming for the Web. CNN and ABC News have had video channels streaming online for a few years. Those webcasts mimic the format of traditional cable news channels, with a mix of anchored newscasts and specialized programs.

“The Strategy Room,” by contrast, resembles ABC’s “The View” mixed with a dash of Rush Limbaugh and a generous helping of “Wayne’s World.” The program began as a series of special webcasts on the evenings of some of the major presidential primaries and then during the political conventions. Then Fox turned it into a five-day-a-week, 9-to-5 session in September, produced on a budget hardly more than pocket change.

It tries to make its rough edges a virtue, defining it as a news channel for the YouTube world. Hosts, Fox correspondents and guests of all sorts wander on and off camera, drinking coffee and soda, tapping at their BlackBerrys and laptops, reading news and responding to comments from viewers.

When there is a news event, like a speech or press conference, viewers see the backs of the heads of the guests watching it on a big screen, throwing out wisecracks about the goings-on. Mr. Straka compares the format with the cult comedy series “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

“We are goofy over here,” said Mr. Straka, who is also the vice president in charge of video for “As long as we don’t make it look like TV, I’ll be happy.”

“The Strategy Room” marks a new era of experimentation in webcasting video news. TV news operations are trying to tap into the appetite for longer online programming that has been whetted by entertainment sites like

As with text Web sites, prime time for video news is the workday, when people want information or distraction at the office where they have fast Internet connections but no televisions.

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