Overview

Introduction

The three letters CNN have stood for one thing to me for the past 5 years: the McDonald's of News. In this section, I review how they have taken their franchise to a new neighborhood, known as the Internet. The results are in: all that glitters isn't gold (or, all those gifs don't make up for a lack of content). Perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh, but doesn't extremism draw more attention than moderation? Or is it only bold characters that do that?

The News

The News brought to you by CNN is not bad, and is loaded with pictures related to the article. All the main areas are covered: the Front Page, the U.S., the World, Weather, Sports, Science and Technology, Travel, Style, Showbiz, Health, and the rather non-standard Earth section.

The standard news page (in the World section, for example) would show the top five articles with short snyopses accompanied by a gif, and a place you could click for the full article. The rest of the news for the day is found near the bottom, with just the title of each article to guide you.

The past few days of articles are found at the bottom of the page, grouped by day. Since the news delivery is pretty standard, I will now try to point to sections that have some special appeal.

Travel

The travel section provides some useful information to the would be traveller. A lengthy section on travel news starts you out, and some details spew out at you: "A Vision of Venice", "A Great White In Austrailia", and "Brazil's Indian Tribes". I'm not sure how useful this all is to the average traveller, but you never can tell.

A section of entitled "Destinations" shows some recent travel reviews. Included recently were the hills of Vermont, a boat adventure in the South Pacific, and a winter in Alaska. Overall, there are about 15 reviews you can look at. Unfortunately, each review lacks depth , as they are often five paragraphs long. Some links to related sites are helpful here.

The best part of the travel section is probably the "City Guide", which can give you information on many cities in the country. Once you narrow down your choice, you get a map as well as some nice related sites to visit. Not bad for a free service, but not AAA, either.

Finally, the section on "Getting Ready" gives you tips on travelling on everything from accommodations to tipping, a useful resource.

The Weather

The weather center is probably the highlight of the whole CNN site, allowing you to get the week's weather regardless of where you live, as long as you live in or near one of the couple hundred cities they have listed. If you do, though, you're in luck, as the forecast is detailed and long-term.

You can also get cool satellite photos like the one above, though I'm not sure what to do with them except show them to friends or teachers...

CNN Financial

Finally, CNN Financial provides a ton of financial and business information. It's almost like another site in its own entirety. In fact, that's so much the case, I'm going to go ahead and stop reviewing it. I can only do so many sites, you know.

Analysis

Presentation

This site reminded me the most of a TV station . This should not surprise, considering the CNN roots, but still, why, why, why do they insist of pushing TV into our lives?

Other than that, the site made use of a lot of images to present the best graphical view of recent news among all the sites reviewed.

Quality of Articles

The quality was sometimes lacking, depending on the source. Often, if CNN were the source, the articles lacked depth , sometimes including only two or three paragraphs of information. This contributed to the TV-ness of the site, and made me feel that this is not the spot for news for me.

Article Format

The format of articles was consistent: one to three gifs, a bold headline, and the usual black on white look. Related CNN articles were sometimes pointed to along the bottom. The control panel (see next section) took up the left fourth of the screen real estate, while the article covered the rest. Readable, and a good look overall.

Navigation Tools

The key to this site was the navigation tool. It provided a very consistent format for access to the site, as pictured below.

As you can see, the control panel looks a lot like a remote control on the web site, with direct and easy access to all the components that make up CNN-interactive. I found it easy to use.

On-line Help

Not much help available, though what was available included mostly help on how to view various things on the site. For example, how to download this or that video player to see a little video clip.

Search Capabilities

Search was great, as I could find over 100 articles on O.J. Simpson from the past few months. It was not clear how far back the archives went.

Timeliness Of Content

The content seemed to change fairly rapidly, perhaps reflecting the CNN tradition of news on the half-hour .

Use of Multimedia and Technology

This site was one of the best users of new media capabilities on the Internet. Lots of images and some decent amount of video and audio clips made this site much more like a television than a newspaper.

One unique feature had their hyperlinks to other sites on the web pop up a new browser when you clicked on them, instead of just changing the URL of your current browser. This kept me well grounded , allowing me to browse other sites while remaining on the CNN site at the same time.

On-line Forums

None.

Electronic Partnerships

CNN the TV station, CNN-financial.

Summary

The TV generation has become a part of InterNews, and the results aren't too pretty. This site is riddled with too many gifs, but not enough "ifs." This is another way to say that less verbiage equals less content.

Invasive advertising has found its way on-line as well, and we have the TV people to thank. Who else? Every other site that I reviewed for this work had advertising, yet it only bothered me "on CNN" (picture James Earl Jones saying it).

The one positive aspect of this site, and the irony is not lost upon me: it provides the best (remote) control capabilities, as well as good use of images and the web as a media environment.


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