Somewhere between hating myself for actually reading a story about Halle Berry being pregnant and laughing at the amazing lede in the Seattle marijuana story, I had a realization about how much I love the CNN website. i may be just comparing it to the much less impressive site of my normal beat, The Seattle Times, but I found very few complaints with the CNN channels I am reviewing – other than I can't imagine a scenario in which I would click on the entertainment section unless I were assigned to review it again. I found the CNN website well put together with good use of multimedia.

The first thing that needs to be mentioned on the CNN channels is content. I was able to go to the assigned pages and immediately find something I was interested in. There was an awesome story about using bananas as a computer interface on the tech channel, and an interesting self profile by a 20 year old author, Trevor Pacelli, about autism. It is also worth noting that the CNN Travel channel had a piece on the ongoing Boeing 787 battery dilemma, a story I've been following on The Times.

I was also pleased to find that every story gets attached to some kind of multimedia, be it photos or video, usually both. If there is no direct video on the piece, it is generally attached to a panel discussion from the CNN studios.

The set up of the pages is mostly the same for all the channels, not just the assigned ones but for all of CNN. There is a main story centered on the front page, with a few trending stories along the sides and stories without much multimedia coverage beneath it. While it's not my favorite design in the world, it is simple and efficient and easy to navigate. Its not my favorite design in the world – that honor goes to The New Republic's new site, which continues to blow me away – but its effectiveness for managing mass amounts of content overrides its somewhat dullness.

When I say it's dull,  I don't mean to imply that it makes me want to avoid the site, but when similar designs are seen at every news outlet imaginable, it gets repetitive. There is nothing that makes me notice the design of the website. Nothing that blows me away. I mentioned The New Republic's site as being great, not because it is necessarily innovative, though I haven't seen anything else quite like it for online news sources, but because there is something aesthetically about going to the site. Its simpleness becomes a strength. At sites like CNN I get distracted by all the stuff cluttering up the side bars and drawing my attention away from a particular story. at TNR they use that space to fill supplement the story with footnotes that contain information supplemental to a story. All attention on that page is focused on what brought you to that page. Of course not all sites are the sites of magazines, so TNR has the luxury of being able to manage its content in a particular way.

Overall I love visiting CNN. It provides great coverage supplemented with multimedia. As far as comparing it to The Tmes, it's in a completely different weight class. CNN's budget for those five channels alone probably competes with the entire Time's budget. While I would love to applaud The Times for being almost as good as the mighty CNN, they're not. And they never will be. Its the sad truth of the current journalism world that with shrinking budgets,  only so much great work can be done. I'm going to end here before I spin off into another tirade about how market trends in journalism are demanding more localized coverage. 
 





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