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.



Posted by Sara on August 15, 2003, at 12:41 a.m.:

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

Posted by Dan Martin on August 15, 2003, at 1:21 a.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 16, 2003, at 12:57 a.m.: 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 for me.

Posted by kpaul on August 16, 2003, at 5:01 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 7:30 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 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 2:30 p.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.

Comments have been turned off for this page.