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9News' Olympic investment

9News' Mark Koebrich
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During the 6 a.m. hour this morning, KOA/850-AM played an excerpt from Channel 9 morning host Gary Shapiro's interview with none other than Olympic gold-medal-hoarder Michael Phelps. Thinking this qualified as quite a get, I visited 9News.com upon arriving at the office, and was surprised to find that, as of this writing, the clip of the exchange in question was still nowhere to be found. But I discovered plenty of other Olympic coverage -- some strong, some not so much.

A bar near the top of the screen marked "Olympic Zone" takes surfers to a NBC page personalized for Channel 9, with local connections to the Beijing games highlighted. For instance, icons led to stories about Colorado Rockies minor-leaguer Jayson Nix, who popped himself in the eye during a contest last week, and a report about USA basketball's defeat of Germany that places Carmelo Anthony in the headline despite the fact that he's mentioned only once in the text, about three-quarters of the way from the top of the page. This qualifies as a genuine convenience for the local Olympics fan, as does a "Local Athlete Tracker" that makes keeping up with specific Colorado competitors a snap.

Less impressive is a "Local Notebook" featuring blogs by correspondent Mark Koebrich, VP of interactive services Tim Dietz and photojournalist Dan Weaver. Many of the trio's posts don't quite qualify as scintillating -- like, for instance, Weaver's August 18 recounting of the really good service at his hotel. Still, they're evidence that 9News is trying to get as much bang for the buck as it can -- and as Patti Dennis, the station's news director, confirmed in a May Message column and this followup blog, plenty of bucks were required to establish the station's presence in China. Then again, if 9News techies can get that Michael Phelps video online, the investment may seem worthwhile after all. -- Michael Roberts

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