CNN changed their website this week, and I think this is a first for me: I’m blogging about a website’s updated look. I think the update is, in a word, abysmal.
I freely admit that I avoid the news a majority of the time, for my own reasons. When I want to read some news, though, I fire up CNN.com. I know this makes me old, but I remember the genesis of CNN – a cable channel 100% dedicated to news. It was bold, it was new, people thought it was crazy, but it worked.
The conservative people I know (I won’t call ‘em friends) rail against CNN and called it the “Clinton News Network” back when he was the president – and think that Fox News is actually unbiased – but I really don’t care. I have a college degree in journalism, and most of CNN’s coverage passes my “sniff test” for bias. Or maybe I just expect the news to be biased and CNN’s slant bothers me less. Whatever, CNN has been my go-to source for news for 20 years, give or take.
And then this week their website changed. It’s got huge headlines, and story lead-lines that don’t really say anything, and lots of wasted space – it looks like USA Today, to be honest. CNN themselves says:
“Our headlines are bigger and easier to read, our pages are richer with video and photography, and there’s simply more breathing room.”(link)
What does that mean? It means on the CNN front page, before scrolling, there are 11 (count ‘em) story leads, 5 photos, the temperature in New York City, a news crawl, and an ad for (in my case) World of Watches. And the stories? Fergie, Apple’s iPhone, and Bitcoin made it onto the front page – in newspaper terms, “above the fold.” Seriously…Fergie.
And when I clicked on a story…it was a video. Which means it was 15-30 seconds of an advertisement, which takes 5-10 seconds to initialize. Then there were another 5-10 seconds of a spinning icon before the news story itself started to play…and the video was only 2 minutes long. I’ll be honest, I can read an entire news story in that time, in greater detail than a video will provide. What does CNN say about video?
“It’s CNN’s core, and it’s growing. CNN averages more than 210 million video starts a month, up 40% year over year. Our video player is now bigger and available in more places through the site.”(link)
Yup, they’re proud of it. They’re proud that the majority of stories on their site contain less detail than a written story, take longer to digest, and contain an advertisement that you can’t avoid. I’m kind of offended that I have to watch an advertisement to see a short internet video anywhere, but on a news site it seems especially wrong to me.
Maybe the problem is me. I know I don’t share many opinions with the average American. Maybe I’m the bizarre one for wanting to actually read instead of watch a colorful video. Maybe I’m too old to understand “good” website design. Maybe I’m the only person in America that changes the radio station when an ad comes on, and never ever clicks on an internet ad if possible – not even the “sponsored” links at the top of Google, even if it’s the website I want to visit.
Then again, maybe not.
In any case, I feel like I’ve lost my main source of news, and there’s really nothing I can do about it.