Time Compression of CBS Evening News

I was tooling around the television news sources today when I learned of the plane crash of a plane reportedly registered to a New York Yankees pitcher. It was interesting to see how CNN, Fox and CBS all had a large headline on their web sites saying "Breaking News: ...Joe Torre [says plane registered to Yankee's pitcher]." I like the CBS News site and am guessing that it's been beefed up to coincide with Katie Couric taking over the anchor chair for the Evening News. But here's the surprise: I could watch the newscast in compressed time format. The video looked fine, the audio sounded fine (not like the good old days of playing an analog recording at a faster speed).

I'm a TV news junkie and I used to record 2 network newscasts (a third was on at the same time) and then deliberately wait until the tape was done so I could ride my exercise bike and fast forward through the commercials and the news on the Middle East (the script always seemed to be the same). So, I was able to watch an hour's worth of television in maybe 40 minutes or so.

Guess what? The CBS Evening News using Windows Media Player 9 allowed me to make the news run faster...I'm not sure if it was twice as fast, but in that ballpark. Now more good news: while watching the time compressed (fast video and voices with no change in pitch) program, I could once again get the news in less time.

Still not satisfied? Well, research on compressed speech from years ago showed that the average person's comprehension of speech maximized at a little over 200% (twice) of the normal speed. So, I used to drive home this point in an audience research class by doing my best Robin Williams version of a brief lecture topic. So, voila! You can have your video news cake and eat it, too!

Is this good news for advertisers? I'll guess not because it will be easier to turn away from a time compressed commercial and the theory for why comprehension is actually better at these faster rates is that it forces the audience member to concentrate more on the speaker, driving other distractions out of the mind. Well, that oversimplification should get me a slap by a researcher in speech communication!

So, yet another variable has been added to emerging media's representation of old media. Whew! How DO you keep up with all this? Oh, right, read this blog.

See references from Nosa Omoigui et al. (1999, May). Time-compression: systems concerns, usage, and benefits in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems: the CHI is the limit, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Pages: 136 - 143.

You may use this content (better still, argue with me!), but please cite my ideas as © 2006, Dr. Bruce Klopfenstein. Find any typos! Don't smite me, let me know!


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