They’re getting it, they’re not getting it, they’re getting it, is someone really “getting it”?

Good Multimedia News Sites . .  . Bad Multimedia News Sites

I have surfed the web over the last couple of days on my quest to find three examples of “bad” and three examples of “good” multimedia news sites. I have come to realize that I cannot possibly draw a line between the two categories (binary oppositions have died with Roland Barthes, haven’t they?).

Instead, I have created a selection of links on a continuum. Main criteria for the placement was not content, but the use of web2.0 technologies that would bring a benefit the readers and encourage users to becme engaged in a conversaition. I will be moving from “little use of Web2.0 technology” to “extensive use”.

My first example of rather poor use of web2.0, surprisingly springs from a programmer. Paul Graham claims 10.6 million visitors for his homepage in 2008, which indicates that his site is quite popular.

In his latest essay he proposes a rather daring plan for a combined solution of economic and immigration issues in the US. The topic is highly debated in the news since President Obama has declared immigration to be a priority on his list. The essay could have been a great starting point for conversation. However, it contains neither pictures nor links (although there is an abundance of related articles like this one which even ties both topics together) and most importantly: no feature for comments.

Web2.0 is about the conversation, not just one-way information! ©pc britz

Web2.0 is about the conversation, not just one-way information! ©pc britz

Graham misses the opportunity to engage in a conversation, his communication remains linear.

Graham is in good company, however. Although the Associated Press has categories for other media then text, press releases like this neither crosslink to other media, nor do they allow for any sort of feedback or user communication.

A little more user friendly is this New York Times article on internet piracy. It provides (a few) links to people mentioned and there is a “related search” option at the bottom. Initially, the article also had a comment function. However, it disappeared after less than two days. Even though conversation might have taken place initially, the outcome is lost to future readers.

On the German side of media, the situation isn’t too glorious either. Although presents their coverage of the Somali pirates complete with related link list, list of related videos and photos, it remains onedirectional providing NO comment function!

Newsweek does a better job than its German competitor on a story on gun control. Newsweek combines links, related photos and has a comment box. Unfortunately it is empty. It is not necessarily easy to find either, since the site appears very unorganized.

CNN has an astonishing variety of coverage on the Somali pirates: the story contains many links and is connected with both photos and videos as well as background information on the subject. Other than on Newsweek, it is very transparent and the different elements are easy to find. CNN also has a function that brings up blog posts on the subject, which moves it to the top of the multimedia news sites. Yet, CNN is still taking the steps towards web2.o: It does not include a comment function or discussion board of its own.

Overall, this is a rather disappointing result. Although some news sites make use of the ability to link different media on the same subject, most of them lack a tool to allow for interactive user engagement. Others who allow for this function miss out on providing further reading or other media. I have not been able to find a satisfying example of both cross-media use and facilitation of user discussion.

If you can offer examples of what you think is a brilliant use of the categories mentioned above, please leave a comment with link!

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