CNN and Chicago Trib display sitewide breaking-news alerts

Written by Adrian Holovaty on August 14, 2003

While checking various news sites today to read about the power outage on the U.S. East Coast, I noticed two sites -- the Chicago Tribune and CNN -- displayed the news alert via urgent banners at the top of most (all?) article pages. It's a smart idea that helps disseminate breaking news to people who aren't necessarily reading the sites' home pages.

I'd known (and reported) that CNN had such a capability but hadn't seen it in action until today. As for the Trib, this is the first I've heard of their implementation.

Screenshots:

Comments

Posted by Sara on August 14, 2003, at 7:41 p.m.:

CNN's is much more obvious and noticeable. The Trib's could easily be overlooked.

Posted by Dan Martin on August 14, 2003, at 8:21 p.m.:

Knowing that I was looking for a breaking news banner I still had to strain to find the breaking news banner.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think either standout too much. It is a great idea though, and it might seem a bit more obvious in context. Thanks for pointing it out Adrian!

Posted by Jon Gales on August 15, 2003, at 7:57 p.m.:

FoxNews.com does this too, except their servers were in NYC and had to be changed over (This is really just a hunch... it was down for a while right after the outage started and then came back with no mention of what happened). It's yellow and really grabs attention.

Maybe it's related to the server change I theorized, but the site is redirecting to http://www.foxnews.com.edgesuite.net/ for me.

Posted by kpaul on August 16, 2003, at 12:01 a.m.:

I'm getting the FoxNews redirect too. Weird.

Re: the breaking news (whew, there aren't crazy text scrollers like on tv yet), i like the Trib's better - seemed more dignified and integrated as part of the site.

Posted by Adrian on August 16, 2003, at 2:30 a.m.:

It's interesting that some of you guys didn't think the alerts stood out -- maybe that's because you're not regular readers of the site, and therefore it wasn't a significant change? I read chicagotribune.com regularly, so the site's red banner stood out immediately, despite its smaller size.

I agree with kpaul that the Trib's was more dignified. CNN's was too in-your-face for my liking. The different approaches seem to reflect the typical newspaper vs. TV-news mentalities, respectively.

Posted by Nathan Ashby-Kuhlman on August 16, 2003, at 9:30 a.m.:

I'm not a regular reader of either site, so I bet that is why neither really stand out for me either. My brain dismisses those blocks of color as part of the header and ignores them, whereas a regular reader would instantly go, "hey, they changed the header." I think they might be more noticeable if they weren't butted up against the header like that -- if instead those bright banners were clearly a part of the content area, surrounded by lots of white space padding to separate them from the header. Put them right where I've trained myself to look for a headline, not the area I've trained myself to ignore.

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