A Different Kind of Hot Zone

Kevin Sites takes a look at the "People of the Web"

Last year, I commended Yahoo’s sole producer of original content, Kevin Sites, for his multimedia globetrotting in which he managed to capture some fresh stories from the world’s war zones.

Well, he’s apparently back in our United States now and exploring a world with just as much absurdity and idiosyncrasy as the Eastern Congo or Lebanon: the Internet. In a series called “People of the Web,” Sites has been creating video/text stories about different individuals who have been doing interesting things on-line. There’s the guy who started a dating site for farmers, the gay teenager from Paducah, Kentucky who used You Tube to turn himself into a popular fashion guru, the LA activist who has created a site for exposing police brutality caught on video.

The idea of the series is so brilliant and filled with seemingly endless possibility that it’s amazing no one thought of it before. There’s also a lesson to be learned. Because Yahoo – fed by hundreds of news services — doesn’t have to worry about reporting the hard news of what happened yesterday, it can devote its one correspondent to the job of finding truly engaging features. Maybe when newspapers realize that by the time we see their front pages, television and the Internet have already broken the big news, they too might free themselves to produce more compelling stories that get beneath and beyond the headlines.

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Gal Beckerman is a former staff writer at CJR.