A Gulf Leak Meter widget and live video stream of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have provided PBS NewsHour with a “significant increase” in Web traffic, the show reported today (May 27). Newshour and NPR are providing the embedding code for the widget free and it has been used by more than 3,000 websites including YouTube, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Wired, ProPublic, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and many local PBS stations. Subscribers to the PBS Newshour YouTube channel doubled in one 24-hour period. More than 1 million viewers have watched the video feed via Newshour and NPR websites. The crisis began April 20 when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 17 workers and left 11 missing, and oil continues to flow from a well some 5,000 feet below the surface. The widget debuted May 9.
UPDATE: Chris Amico, an interactive editor at NewsHour, is requesting assistance from the news-tech community at Help by Hacks/Hackers for ideas to keep the streaming video flowing. “We’re currently using NPR’s Akamai account, but the cost is starting to get beyond our ability to pay,” he noted, adding, ” . . . would your news organization like to partner with us to help keep the feed alive?” For technical reasons the show can’t link directly to BP’s video feed, which is in WMV format.