The CNN.com homepage has a LOT going on.

Lots of boxes, lots of colors, lots of headlines, and lots of links all trying to give the news to readers but making the news as convenient and accessible as possible.

While doing this project, the CNN.com webpage changed to one more organized and accessible. Many more organizational boxes and many more blue links to news stories on the homepage. They also changed their color scheme to more red, a color that signifies power and excitement.

When looking at CNN.com and breaking it down one realizes that CNN has many tools they use from short word counts, pictures, and catchy headlines to make sure that news consumers have the most accessible and realiable news. So many times readers take for granted the websites they read and how they function to us as readers. Looking at CNN.com allowed me to see some of the elements that lead to my readership and the readership of many others.


What exactly is the CNN news story?

*It falls under one of the large news topics: World, U.S., Political, ect.

*It has significance

*It’s usually about 400-800 words

The CNN news story uses the same writing skills sets that the CNN broadcast news uses. The smaller word count allows the reader to get the gist of the story without having too much to read. It certainly sounds counter-intuitive, but the more one reads, the less one absorbs of the story, especially in a time crunch when the reader wants to get the news and get on with the day.

Many times the news story is accompanied by a picture or an embedded video. By giving a picture or video, the reader becomes more able to place a face or location with a story. It allows the reader to visualize the news and perhaps better understand what the story is all about.

The news story is also filled with links (See the Links blog) that allow to the reader to find out more about the news topic or the subject being written about. For example, if one wants to know more about Jon and Kate drama, all they have to do is click on a link and they are taken to a search list where they can find all news related to Jon and Kate.

In the end, the newstory about a convenient and fast read that gets the reader in and out of the story and onto their day. It’s a very simple, fast read format giving news accessibility to every reader regardless of time limitations.


Who doesn’t like a splash of COLOR?

I know I personally do.

Let’s think back to the old days, the “Leave it to Beaver” days, where everything was black and white. Kind of boring, right? The news was that way. Lots of text surrounding black and white photos. The only interaction was to turn the pages and follow the story. With the black and white texts and photos, you could read about the story and see the picture, but you couldn’t really grasp the sense of what was happening. Even the best news writer or photojournalist could not combat this. Why? You weren’t there! You couldn’t see exactly what was happening or have someone point out what the story was about and interview someone live on camera. Black and White text lacks COLOR!

I hope you enjoyed that psychadellic trip of a first paragraph. I’m curious. What colors stuck out to you? Was it the red? The blue?

CNN.com in its design uses a LOT of red. Let’s look at our previously posted screen shot of the new CNN.com again:

CNN.com ScreenshotMan that’s a whole lot of red on the the top of that webpage. Even the tabs are red! What is the point of all this red?!?

Red is a color of passion, danger, excitement and strength. Many times people connote red with sex or hunger. Is CNN suggesting that they have sexy news or the news you are hungry for just by their color scheme? They sure are.

Let’s think about sexy news. We’re attracted to CNN’s news stories. Why? Well looking in the middle of the page there are boxes of color that make me want to click and interact with it. I want to watch it. I become hungry for CNN due to it’s webpage sexiness. It’s is news that amuses us from our laptops.

Why are the tabs at the top in red? They are leading you to more of CNN.com’s exciting, interactive news. Once you click on a tab, it becomes white to indicate what page you are now looking at. The tabs remind me of an old rolodex: you know, the one that your mom used to keep all the family phone numbers on in your house. (Or at least that’s what it was in my house… there was an address/ phone number book as well) When you selected the tab of the last name of the person that you wanted to look up, you flipped to that card. No longer was the card in the shadow, but now it was in the light so you could read what was on the card. This is what CNN.com does with it’s top tabs. It’s gives a rolodex effect so that people who have never encountered the site before but who have probably encountered tab systems can probably figure out where to click. The color change indicates your interaction with their tabbed system.

What about BREAKING NEWS?! Why Yellow? If you’ve ever watched a CNN broadcast, you know that they place BREAKING NEWS in yellow across the screen when something exciting happens. Ironically yellow gives ideas of warmth, sunshine, and happiness. Usually, the breaking news that is featured is something sad or horrendus. (Think back to California Wildfires, Virginia Tech Shooting, or even 9-11.) Breaking news is not fun stuff. Is CNN trying to capture us with their irony? The website is also filled with breaking news updates.

So on top of the boxy design, CNN has color. But behind all the red, blue and yellow are deeper rhetorical and psychological connections. It is color choice that affords us the opportunity to understand CNN.com on a deeper level.


An interesting facet of CNN.com news stories is that they link. There are quite a few different links on CNN.com, all of which matter to the make-up of how CNN reports the news.

Embedded Links within the story:

The first link is an embedded link, usually underlined, bolded or in a color different from the text. The distinctive visual difference from the text of the news story indicates to us that we are to click on the link. If the story is interesting enough, we want to click on the link as well. We know by its difference  to the other text that it is leading us to something new. When one clicks on an embedded link they’re looking for more news related to that subject or news story.  Clicking on it takes the CNN consumer to a completed search list of their website, much like the result of a google search filled with related news.

The blue links to CNN news stories on the homepage

Instead of clicking on the tabs across the top of the homepage that categorize news based on topic which takes you to a page solely focused on that news topic, (i.e. U.S. News tab takes you to a page filled with U.S. news) one can scroll down to the bottom of the page to look for the blue links. The blue links are categorized in their topic boxes (World, U.S., Political, ect.) and they provide a convenient way for news consumers to get their news without having to open a new page. When one looks at the blue links, they know that they are getting the top headlines and stories for the day. The blue links allow convenience.

Links to other news story sources

The other type of new story link on CNN.com is a link that connects to a story not written by CNN.com writers. Many times these articles are by local news writers or magazine contributors. It is at the point where CNN links to other news source stories that it truly becomes a rhizomatic news source. By linking to other news sources not written by their owners CNN achieves two things: a large news database and continuing their theme of being “The Worldwide Leader in News.”

Therefore CNN.com is like a peanut plant. It’s a rhizome of links leading us to get the overall story, not just one dimension of the news or what’s happening in the world. One can stay on CNN.com just linking to different news stories and news sources.


To Begin: I’m a news junkie. I think that figures into why I would analyze CNN.com as a user, because I use it all the time.

For someone who is constantly on the go, I understand the success of a website like CNN.com. First of all, CNN has become a household name for around the clock, around the world news that is the latest, most relevant, and most up-to-the-minute.  It is it’s own broadcast news meme.  CNN has always been broadcast news, which I think is important when considering the website. According to good old Wikipedia, Broadcast Journalism is simply “published by electrical methods, instead of the older methods, such as printed newspapers and posters”. Pretty simple. However, CNN has always been in the business of visual Broadcast News. It’s not just about what you hear (radio) or read (newspaper), but it’s about using two senses of seeing and hearing simultaneously that gives you the CNN news experience.

The Objection then becomes: Well, what’s so special about CNN? Local News has been doing that since television came out!

It is my opinion that CNN.com is an extension of the cable channel placed on the internet with more affordance for interaction by the news consumer.

To begin my discussion of CNN.com, I would like to begin with DESIGN:

Let’s first compare the CNN.com homepage to what you get when you turn on the T.V.

The New CNN.com from Ccortez.com

This is the brand new CNN.com. Launched in Mid-October, the brand new CNN.com has become more user friendly with many boxes of stories that immediately meet you when you open the website. This affords the consumer many opportunities for a news story to catch their eyes so they can click and read. One of my postings will be about the changes from the old website to the new website and what that affords consumers of internet news.

Robin from CNN in the morning

This is a shot of Robin in the Morning: Robin Meade from CNN Headline News. (courtesy of city-data.com)

The one specific thing I want to point out about the comparison between CNN.com and CNN are the boxes. Ok, so what about boxes? Well let’s think about it, there are lots of rectangular shapes surrounding all the text that is on both the CNN.com website and CNN broacast. It’s an obvious way to highlight the news, and draw your eye to what the broadcaster or webmaster wants you to read, however, I think that it’s more than that. Think about your weekly trip to the grocery store. How many boxes do you see? Tons, right? What occurs all over those boxes? Print.  Our television is technically a box; our computer screen is a box. It is engrained in us as consumers to consume media and information that is in boxes.

CNN and CNN.com work as sources of broadcast and internet news because they’re boxy. Little compartments of information for each one of use to look at and select or pass if we so choose. Boxes give us affordance. Every since we were young enough to select cereal or our favorite blue box of macaroni and cheese, we have been given choices to consume in boxes.

 


What does it matter that I talk about CNN.com?

I guess the first place to begin is that I consider CNN.com to be a primary news source.  I figure that there are many others out there just like me.  These people get to work in the morning with their lukewarm cup of coffee, turn on their computers, check their email and look at CNN.com (or WeatherChannel.com; or both).

I rarely have time to even sit down and watch CNN on the television. I rarely consult television for my news, period. Why? Convenience primarily. To make it home by 5,6,or 7 P.M. for the day’s news is really almost asking too much in the life of this college kid, and Lord only knows that I am not waking up in the morning for morning news, thank-you.  Therefore, CNN.com provides me a happy little medium. I can check the news when I want and where I want. CNN.com is accessible.

I used to get an AJC delivered to my apartment everyday when I first moved to Athens. I like newspapers. The way they smell, the thin sheets, the font of the news stories to name a few attributes; however, I never had the time to muddle through the thickness of the paper. The headlines would start a story and then continue on the next page (or a few pages back depending on the length, space and layout for the day).  With CNN.com I am able to read a story from start to finish without having to search for the ending. For a long story, I read while scrolling down to the bottom.  If there’s more to the story, then there’s usually an arrow that I click that continues me to the next webpage of news. CNN.com provides a really easy roadmap for news; newspapers can sometimes be harder to follow.

Another thing I really hated about the newspaper were all the advertisements. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that newspapers need to sell ads in order to make money and keep the paper running. However, newspaper ads can be distracting from the story (anything in a box and bold print that says “SALE at Macy’s” has me drooling in seconds). Which makes me think that newspapers are sometimes more focused on making sure that the ads are laid out in the perfect spot instead of the news story itself.

Cnn.com v. Newspaper


Magnetic Poetry

12Oct09

You know what I think is a great form of art?

Magnetic Poetry. That’s right people. Stick those suckers on your refrigerator and VOILA! you too are a poet.

Magnetic poetry

In all honesty, magnetic poetry allows you the affordance of being two things at once: a Poet and an Artist. You can make decisions on what words to choose and how to arrange them on your poetic canvas. In many instances that poetic canvas is your refrigerator door.

Magnetic poetry is art because the form that you choose to place your words in makes up how the reader interacts with your poem. Magnetic poetry is literature because it is a poem.

In this line of thought, think of your status updates. What you choose to say and how you say it affords your reader insight into your daily life. Think of your blogs or how you lay out your facebook page. What you choose to do with your postings and blobs of information affords your followers the opportunity to enter into your world. Does what you post say exactly what you want it to say? Does that facebook page accurately reflect you?