Fun Facts

MSNBC last week launched some new online tools to make accessing the news on its Web site more "fun,

surprising" and interactive. That includes the new NewsBlaster online game, in which players have to "smash

orbs holding live news headlines"(gives new meaning to the term "breaking news").

Then there is Spectra, billed as a "customizable kaleidoscope of news," which it says is a new way to view the

news on the site in three-dimensional space.

MSNBC says that includes news stories appearing as "colorful, graphic whirlwinds." Or, if the surfer has a

Webcam, content can be accessed with body motions, or triggered by the color of clothing, say "green tagged"

environmental stores triggered by a green shirt or a red shirt triggering, well, we’ll leave it up to the reader’s imagination.

The wedding of news and fun opens up the possibility for some jarring combinations, however, say, a whirlwind delivering the news of the cyclone tragedy in Myanmar or "smashing" an orb to get a headline about a shooting.

Will MSNBC screen those headlines for content that isn’t meant to be fun? No."The games are fed by live RSS

feeds," said MSNBC spokeswoman Gina Stikes, "so it is possible to get any of the day’s headlines."

But consumers can do their own filtering," she says. "They can customize the RSS feeds to get whatever

combination of the news they like, so if they wanted to get entertainment only, or health only, or sports

only, or a mix of all of the news of the day, they have the option to do that."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.