CNN Presents the Middle East In Unexpected Ways

29 Sep

Two articles caught my attention on CNN as I scrolled through the archives this past week.

The first, entitled “A kiss, a Rolls, a snake dancer: The Middle East through its own lens” was not only a gorgeous collection of photos, but an impressive mechanism of photojournalism that really serves to turn an image on its head. The “image” that I am referring to is that of the war-torn Middle East; instead, this compilation of photos depicts said part of the world in an entirely differently light. The first image that caught my eye was a woman in bell bottoms kissing a young girl’s cheek– a photo that I feel could have just as easily been found in my mother’s dusty albums that she keeps in our attic. Other photos include a woman in a two piece bathing suit with a snake wrapped around her (an image with definitely contradicts what I consider to be appropriate dress codes for Middle Eastern women), various self portraits of American-Egyptian photographer Van Leo and a gorgeous sepia tone landscape image entitled “On the Road to the Dead Sea.”

When I backtracked from this article, I noticed that it was part of a content package called “Inside the Middle East.”  The package contained a range of articles about various countries, religions, and life in the Middle East.  One particular article described Ramadan in detail, and linked to a blog entitled “Your faith: What does religion mean to you?”  Another article detailed popular Turkish body art.

I also enjoyed the article Belgian designers create buzz with high fashion-hijab.  The article describes how Belgian designers have been givien high fashion makeovers, and are being sold in a range of places, from Paris to Dubai.  The photo below is my favorite; it looks like it was taken straight out of Vogue.

CNN

I’m curious to look into the other content packages that live within the CNN site.

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CNN iReport: Paving the future for live reporting?

17 Sep

Being a native of New York City, I immediately gravitated towards the CNN article entitled “Bushwick New York at the Tornado.” Having heard of the devastation that the storm incurred I was expecting a massive captioned photo gallery, but I wasn’t expecting the pop up that immediately showed up on my screen:

“Welcome to iReport, where people take part in the news with CNN. Your voice, together with other iReporters, helps shape how and what CNN covers everyday.

So you know: iReport is the way people like you report the news. The stories in this section are not edited, fact-checked or screened before they post. Only ones marked ‘CNN iReport’ have been vetted by CNN.”

I immediately thought of the Chapter in Journalism Next in which Mark Briggs discusses “Pro-Am Journalism,” a movement in which a news organization invites anyone to contribute photos and video content. This gallery of Bushwick’s devastation is a prime example of such journalism: this gallery, posted by an anonymous user from Brooklyn, New York, provides photo content that was most likely sent to CNN sooner than any correspondent could access it.

This photo really struck me– the devastation is unlike anything I have ever seen in Brooklyn after a storm.

The galleries edited by CNN had a small red “i” in the far right corner, while the other storm galleries were labeled as “not vetted by CNN.” I found this to be cool, as it turned into somewhat of a forum for people to share who are all going through the same experience to share thoughts, photos and footage.

This photo was taken just a few blocks from my apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It was a pretty unreal experience to see such close coverage of this event that I had just finished speaking with my family about. I am going to encourage my brothers to upload some of the photos that they took to the website.

CNN at a Glance

8 Sep

I was not as familiar with the news website for CNN as I was with the New York Times, my primary source for online news. I have long been accustomed to the Times’ underwhelming white background and standard “newsy” feel, and I was immediately impressed by CNN.com’s vibrant, pulsating layout. Aside from the bright red background of the toolbar on the top of each page, the site is chock full of video content and audio packages, sprinkled throughout the site as either clickable photo tabs or links. The site always contains a breaking news photo tout on the top left, and a feature story photo in the top center.

The content of the site is impressive and thorough; the site boasts a global team of 4,000 reporters working to provide online content 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The main toolbar divides the site into categories (U.S., Politics, Health) and each page is divided into subcategories for easy, organized navigation (i.e. U.S. is divided into Midwest, South, etc.; Politics is divided into Congress, Midterm Economics.)

Each page within the site links to CNN’s partnership producers, which is useful and relative but featured at the bottom of each page as not to distract from the main content (i.e. the main U.S. homepage links to Time.com; the Entertainment page links to EW.com and People.com.) When I interned at InStyle.com this summer, I learned that InStyle.com and CNN.com are partnership producers and link to one another’s sites with articles that the respective users would be interested in– I learned that this not only adds diversity to the content of a site, but also works to boost traffic on both of the sites.

The first and foremost tabs on the top toolbar (Home, Video, “NewsPulse”) are embedded in a slightly darker shade of red than the other tabs (U.S., Health, etc.) I loved the video tab because it really helps the site distinguish itself from other print news aggregators, and helped to reinforce that CNN is really– at its core– a site built upon television news.

The Newspulse tab took the cake as my favorite aspect of the site, as it is a tab that organizes news first by catergory, and then by popularity. For example, at 11:44 P.M. on Monday, September 13th, I discovered that the most popular article being read on the entire CNN site is that of reporter Ines Sainz defending herself in a sexual harassment case involving several members of the Jets football team (see screenshot.) Thus, the NewsPulse tab not only introduced me to an interesting piece of news, but informed me of what was on the public’s radar at that given moment.

I am excited to continue to track and analyze different aspects of the CNN website throughout the semester, especially the video and audio coverage. I have already found myself going straight to the NewsPulse page on several occasions for quick updates on hot, current news topics.