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 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
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.
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,
Finally, the section on "Getting Ready" gives you tips on
travelling on everything from accommodations to tipping, a useful
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
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...
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.
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.
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.
The key to this site was the navigation tool. It provided a
very consistent format for access to the site, as pictured
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.
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 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
CNN the TV station, CNN-financial.
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.