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On Weekdays, It's a Web War

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

On Weekdays, It's a Web War

Article excerpt

War is a TV event, unless it happens while you're at work -- in which case it becomes a Web event. As the U.S. attack on Iraq began last week, newspaper Web sites, having learned lessons from Sept. 11, 2001, were ready to cover this year's biggest news story during the Internet's prime time, 9 a.m. to 5

"We've created a system here that's very flexible and allows us to respond to spikes in traffic," said washingtonpost.com spokesman Don Marshall. If swamped by visitors, the site can outsource the hosting of its high-bandwidth video, which includes live coverage of White House and Pentagon briefings and reports from the Middle East. If technical problems were to arise at a busy moment, washingtonpost.com is prepared to turn off the graphics on the site, including advertisements and multimedia features.

Similar preparations for streamlining have been made at newspaper Web sites across the country, although most are confident they can handle virtually any traffic load. Many newspapers greatly increased their bandwidth and server capacity after 9/11. The night the bombing began, The New York Times on the Web turned off its registration wall, "to get the news out to as many readers as possible, as quickly as possible," said Christine Mohan, spokeswoman for New York Times Digital.

Adding to the traffic burden is all the video that many news sites are offering in an effort to serve at-work users. In some cases, E.W. Scripps Co. newspapers will link to video clips about the war on Web sites owned by Scripps TV stations, saving the newspaper sites from bandwidth drain. …

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