CNN.com, in my opinion, does an excellent job of holding the attention of media viewers.

An example of CNN’s proficiency in holding the attention of net users would be this article on sound in space:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/09/09/opinion/levin-music-space/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

This article is very well done.  A video supplements the text article, and the video uses music and sounds that will keep viewers attentive.  Vivid language and imagery prevent what can be a very complex topic from becoming too lofty.  Users can understand the video story with relative ease.

The article itself is short and simple.  The language used, particularly by the subject interviewed, illustrates the speaker’s points very well.  I particularly liked her example comparing the sound black holes make to the sound of a mallet banging a drum.

One thing that I would have liked for them to add would be a wave file of the scientist’s actual recorded findings, so visitors can experience the phenomenon.  If I understand the article correctly, they have instruments that can pick up the “ringing in space.”  So why does CNN not have a recording of what ringing in space sounds like?  Even if it is not particularly pretty sounding, it would be an astounding thing to hear.

The sentences here are not particularly long or short.  I think they’re about right to hold the viewer’s attention.

Here is an example of an instance where CNN had no extra media content:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/americas/09/11/mexico.missing.oil.workers/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

While this article is not bad, it certainly does not take advantage of multimedia capabilities.  Perhaps CNN has no pictures or video for this story, and that’s understandable.

A very useful feature for this article is the story highlights sidebar.


From this sidebar, a user can find the most important information on this story.  Of the 10 workers who were missing, seven of them were found alive, and two more are confirmed dead.

The sentences in the article are appropriately short.  The information is well attributed, and the sources seem reliable.  The tragic story was handled well.

A blog on CNN.com would not be complete without considering the day’s headline story:

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/09/11/911.commemoration/index.html?hpt=hp_c1
The immediate view of this article is a compelling appeal to the viewer’s emotions.


On the 10th anniversary of a national tragedy, that tragedy is recalled in full color pictures, videos, and text.  Many links are available for more content on this topic.  A highlights section is available for those who do not have time to read the full article.

While the news service made some editorial decisions I might not have made, the article is overall very satisfying.  It leads by connecting the event at the memorial to quotations by the president.   The article follows this by telling us about a concert at the memorial, which I would have left for the end of the article.  I feel this did not fit the inverted period style.  The musical performances should be mentioned later than the speech by former president George W. Bush, vice president Joe Biden, and the statements made by rescue workers and family members of the victims.  The music was important, but it should have been reserved for the end.

Readers have the option to read as much as they like of the content on this page, and to follow a link to another similar story, or they can simply read the highlights.  However, if they did, they would miss out on some of the most important parts of the story, such as the quotes and what was actually done in commemoration today.

The story covers a lot of substance, and while I would ordinarily say this story is too long, I would make an exception for this kind of coverage.  The story is very personal for its target audience, and I think many people who begin to read this story would finish it.

In general, I think it is best to keep stories short and simple and to use media to back the story up.   I find the highlights sidebar very helpful, and I think that articles should use links to similar stories when they’re available.  I prefer to read major news articles in the inverted pyramid style and feature stories in more creative styles.

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