Spokane News Web Lives in the Dark Ages

Update: Sheryl @ stardust global ventures has a similar post, with similar thoughts on Spokane’s Local Media Web. She found it ironic that she and I had the same ideas, while not having ever crossed paths, and I have to say, I agree. Give her article a read!

Tonight, I was browsing happily from my iPhone. This is quite possibly the neatest feature of my iPhone for me. I love the ability to browse the web, and I really appreciate that most national news sites that I visit, such as Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and CBS News all have iPhone friendly websites. These sites auto-detect that I’m surfing from an iPhone and load up a less graphics intensive version of the site that is easier to read on my iPhone and I assume that these sites work similarly with Blackberries and other mobile web browsing devices. I enjoy this feature so much that this very blog is set up to auto-detect iPhone users when they visit the site. It automatically feeds them an iPhone friendly version of randomgemini.com.

I do most of my web browsing from my iPhone these days because it’s convenient and the internet is always in my pocket. If I’m standing in the laundry room wanting to know which stores around town have the best price on fabric softener, I break out my iPhone. If I am in front of my PS3 playing a game and need a walkthrough, I break out my iPhone. I almost don’t need a laptop anymore.

Recently, I have started paying attention to the local news. Normally, I don’t bother. The local news can get rather depressing after a while, so I just pay attention to things on a national level and leave the local stations to do what they do, but this month is different.

This month, Spokane has been hit with the worst series of snow storms it has ever seen in recorded history. We had over 54 inches of snow in the month of December alone. There was more snow last night. The roofs of several local businesses have collapsed, as well as carports in apartment complexes and homes with flat roofs because the buildings were simply not designed for this amount of snow load.

It has suddenly become important to keep up with the local news to me, very important. The local news has kept me and my family safe since all of these storms began by informing me of when it is best to stay home and not brave the roads, or where to call when I have a problem, or what to do in the event of certain unusual activities as a result of all the snow in and around my home.

The local news sites are all very busy visually. They have dozens of links to lots of local footage. They are heavily loaded with php, flash or javascript. They all have streaming video links that take you to where newscasters are offering live reports. They all seem very current with web design trends.

They seem that way.

Until you try to browse them from a mobile device, then you get to watch your iPhone load the full bore web version of the news site, complete with video links that do not work and interactive screens that will not load because guess what folks? The iPhone doesn’t support flash. In fact, these sites are so heavily encumbered with flash that browsing them from an iPhone is not easily accomplished and I got so frustrated with one of the sites that I put my iPhone down and went to my laptop.

You might argue that I should simply suck it up and visit those sites with my laptop, but I have to ask you, why should I have to suffer because someone else is simply too lazy (or heaven forbid, charges you a monthly fee) to offer a mobile version of their pages?

What if I were out at the mall with my family? How am I going to obtain information about which roads I should avoid, when I need to know it? I have an iPhone so that I can have access to those things and with flash video and flash interfaces abounding in Spokane’s Local News Web, I can forget it. I’m better off tuning in to the local talk radio station and hoping that I get my up to the minute traffic information sponsored by some tire chain.

I shouldn’t have to put up with this. This is why I bought an iPhone. Neither should you, weather you use an iPhone, a Blackberry or an Android phone. I don’t care how you surf. All devices should be able to surf equally. I know that not every site can give you a mobile friendly page, but is there any real excuse for a news organization to have a web site that one simply can’t use from a mobile device?

If you agree with me, that there is no excuse and are a local, then please put your fingers to your keyboard and send an email to the following folks at the local news stations. Tell them how you feel, and tell them that mobile friendly websites are the future of their business and remind them that their job is to serve the community in which they broadcast. Let them know that as things stand they aren’t doing the mobile users in their community any favors.

KXLY.com’s Web Questions Box.
KREM’s customer service page.
Send an Email to the KHQ Newsroom.