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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why should I believe you?

Progression in the technological world and the gradual movement of news-seekers from print to online has resulted in great changes not just in content but also in the way that Internet news sites present news and showcase the organization. Such improvements in appearance and information enhance accessibility and credibility.
MSN.com, for instance, has changed greatly since its inception in 1996. May 21,1997 the homepage consisted of headlines listed plainly in columns without pictures and while this may look professional in its simplicity, it also looks like a kindergartner created it. One can see that the site is that of NBC; links and contact information are provided. However, stories include no links to outside sources and there is little interactive features. There is no indication of when the site or a story has been updated except for the date at the top. No ads rest on any of the pages (ads show that a company feels the site receives enough traffic to pay money for the ad to be on the page).
Nine years later, MSN.com has proved itself to be one of the top news sites on the web. The homepage is chock-full of pictures, links, video, headlines, and ads, but at a tasteful level. A wealth of interactive features abound to provide support for the stories. At the top of each story it shows when the story was updated down to the hour. RSS feeds provide info from other sites. Also, biographies and photos of staff members are available as well.
Reuters.com has also made great strides in credibility. Its December 7, 1996 site provides only a statement on the homepage claiming it “is a leading international news and financial information services company.” There are few pictures and one headline on the homepage. One e-mail address is provided at the bottom for comments and questions.
In 2006 Reuters looks much better with information about the organization, multiple links and graphics, and a good setup. On the Products and Services page there are categories of the product right for customers and at the top right is a button titled “Ask Sales” to contact a sales rep is necessary. Story content can be verified as names of sources are provided.
One of the most reputed news organizations, BBC.co.uk, had a rather sparse homepage May 9, 1997. Low-quality buttons line the left side of the page along with no headlines. Story pages contain little or no pictures or information relating to updates and there are no ads anywhere. Data about the BBC is questionable and there are no links outside of BBC pages; it could have been made up.
Today BBC looks great, with graphics accompanying stories with updates detailed by the minute, an “Explore” search field that searches links to the entire web outside, and a myriad of other high-tech features (even a weather channel). There is information on how the BBC researches information, a section where people have the opportunity to submit complaints, pictures of staff with information, and numerous stories with links and sources.


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