A comparison of Denver shootings reports by major U.S. news media websites shows that NBC News is trying to differentiate itself by initiating a new, blog-style article design, breaking the tradition of “package format” online reporting.
When examining the breaking news coverage of Denver shootings, I looked at the style and format of reports on the websites of CNN, FoxNews, NBC News, Washington Post, and USA Today. Except for NBC News, the other websites all present the ongoing story in a “package format” – within the main article, there is a cluster of thumbnails that link to relevant videos, photos, maps and other interactive features, as well as links to other articles and materials.
The “package format” is typical of how newspapers cover a major story – articles, photos, opinions are all on one page for the readers to catch up with what’s going on. This format has migrated to the web like a natural – no one seems to argue otherwise, until I saw what NBC News is doing since it rebranded from MSNBC a few weeks ago. (If you are not aware of it, msnbc.com is now nbcnews.com, with a new look and style)
Presenting stories in a blog format, the re-designed NBC News website breaks the “package” tradition by focusing on the story and the story only:
- There is only one column with blank space on both sides; and full-size videos, photos or graphics are being inserted here and there as readers read along.
- There are no thumbnails of video/photo/interactives grouped and inserted in the article for readers to click.
- There are no “Recommendations” or other promotional news contents on either side of the web page.
A screenshot of one NBC News Denver shootings article is being embedded here; move your mouse over the screenshot and scroll down to explore this blog-post style article:
In comparison, the other news sites, following the “package format” reporting, try to present a package of relevant materials, thinking a reader doesn’t know much about the event and trying to provide everything in one place. This may be a false assumption for reporting of major events and news stories, because many audiences may already know what happened, and they just want to read the specific information in this specific story, not everything about the event – there are ample other sources where a reader may already obtained a good amount of information about the event.
Check out the “package format” reports by CNN and Washington Post – mouse over and scroll down: