Paltry Denver Access?

For some Rockies fans, that's what PDA stood for during World Series

November 3, 2007

by David Kopel

The Denver media worked hard and provided an abundance of great coverage of the Rockies this past month. But in one critical front, the locals didn't come through: on mobile media.

On the night of the first World Series game, I was working my way through Denver International Airport, trying to catch as much World Series action as possible before my plane boarded.

I hoped that the ubiquitous televisions at the boarding gates might be showing the World Series. But it turns out that CNN actually owns all those televisions, and paid DIA to place them at the boarding gates, under the condition that they be used only for CNN Airport Channel.

There was a bar/restaurant which had its own TV turned to Fox, but I only had time to watch a half-inning there.

My Treo cell phone has a built-in Web browser, so I tried to get information from local media Web sites. TheRocky Mountain Newshome page had a link for people to sign up for text updates every half-inning. But when I clicked through, the sign-up page was just for the Rocky'susual menu of free e-mails, with nothing even mentioning the Rockies. Turns out the sign-up form waspresent for the Rocky'sfirst-ever experiment in text messaging, but I couldn't see it because the sign-up uses Javascript, and my cell phone (like many personal digital assistants), doesn't run Java. So I filled in the form for the "breaking sports news" e-mails, even though I had only wanted Rockies news.

But the RockyWeb server couldn't process that sign-up request because my phone was Javaless.

Unlike the Rocky, The Denver Postactually has a mobile-enabled Web site (m.denverpost.com). It's a great resource for checking in on Denver news when you don't have the printed paper or a personal computer with an Internet connection.

The Post's mobile-enabled Web site loads much faster on my cell phone than do the regular home pages of the Postor the Rocky, both of which have a huge amount of graphics and text. Indeed, the Spartan layout of the Post mobile Web site is reminiscent of what the Web looked like in the mid-1990s, before broadband and increased personal computing power made it so graphics-intensive.

Unfortunately, the Post's mobile site offered nothing special for Rockies updates.

So I then went to the KOA Web site. No luck. The phone couldn't handle the graphics-rich KOA home page. KOA does provide e-mail updates of breaking news and traffic, and they did supply several e-mails over the course of the game. But not the play-by-play I was hoping for.

Finally, I hit the jackpot with ESPN's mobile Web site. The site supplied pitch-by-pitch updates, with an interval of only several seconds between the play on the field and the update. By hitting "refresh" every 15 seconds, I could follow every ball and strike.

One lesson I learned the hard way is that, despite all the great advances in telecommunications technology in the 21st century, there are still times when nothing beats that great exemplar of mid-20th century America: the portable transistor radio.

The use of Blackberries, Treos, iPhones and other Web-enabled handhelds is growing very rapidly. By not having a mobile-enabled Web site, the Rockyis missing a great opportunity to connect with a large audience, including many of the young people who never acquired the habit of reading a daily print newspaper.

Likewise, none of the five Denver TV news stations has a mobile Web site, even though there are plenty of people who would enjoy watching short news clips on their cell phones - while taking the bus, or waiting in line, or in other short spaces of free time.

The front page of last Sunday's Postbusiness section featured a solid article by Steve Raabe analyzing the growing use of geothermal power in Colorado. The article frankly addressed the hefty expenses of geothermal installation for homes, and acknowledged that the challenges facing companies which hope to build large geothermal facilities.

The front page of the next day's Tech section in the Rockyalso featured an alternative energy article, by Amy Bryer on automobile alternative fuels. The piece did acknowledge some problems with E-85 (a mixture of gasoline and up to 85 percent ethanol), such as the paucity of service stations supplying the fuel. But the Pollyanna-toned article didn't inform readers about E-85's worst flaw: a loss of 10 percent to 20 percent in fuel efficiency. That statistic comes from the very pro-ethanol Michigan Department of Agriculture.

Bryer also wrote that E-85 "burns cleaner than gasoline." Definitely true for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, both of which are harmful to breathe. But because of inferior fuel efficiency, corn-based ethanol can actually release more carbon dioxide per mile traveled than does gasoline. It's even worse when you account for CO2 emissions from the production and distribution processes. Although CO2 is natural and nontoxic, many auto buyers would want to know about those emissions.

 

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