CD-ROMs? What, No Eight-Tracks? Reel-t0-Reels?

The Los Angeles Times this morning has a story that's actually old news to most Dallas Morning News subscribers: Dallas' Only Daily is among two major newspapers in the country to include with its Sunday editions IMedia International Inc.-created CD-ROMs full of "movie previews, music samples, video games, comics, celebrity interviews and advertisements." The News began including the CDs in some of its Sunday papers back in April and has done it at least one other time; more are on the way, clearly. (The other paper to buy into this idea is the New York Daily News.) Of course, the idea smells so 1997; who the hell gives away CD-ROMs, when most people would prefer DVDs to watch, ya know, movie trailers and music videos? They're only nine years behind the curve.

Of course, Belo execs love the idea. They also loved the CueCat.

"Executives at the Dallas Morning News said they were pleased with initial results since they began in April to pack IMedia's discs into the Sunday paper once a month.

'It was a gamble for us to do this,' said Bernie Heller, vice president of advertising for the Morning News. 'I'm not ready to say it will definitely pay off in the long run or that my advertisers will embrace it. But so far it looks really good.'"

I haven't watched either of the CD-ROMs I've received; no doubt there's proprietary software on the thing, not to mention God knows how many other nosy programs that will attach themselves to my hard drive. Besides, says The Times:

"As they click through the selections, viewers must either click past or stop at a welter of video and banner advertising. The Morning News' Heller acknowledged that too many ad stops could become 'cumbersome' and that the newspaper and IMedia 'are still working to figure out the best user experience we can get.'"

Meanwhile, layoffs--damn it, buyouts--at the paper begin this week. Can you put those on a CD-ROM? --Robert Wilonsky

Update: Friend of Unfair Park Lorlee Bartos has actually tried the CD-ROM insert and offers this review:

"I tried to watch it, just for the heck of it, but it isn't self-contained. It has to hook to the Net and got to be way too cumbersome, so it hit the trash. Though, you know, I think I only threw out that CueCat guy a couple of years ago. He was sort of cute."