CNN whips out a dual headline format to cover both Yugoslavia and VP debates.
October 5, 2000 6:57 PM   Subscribe

CNN whips out a dual headline format to cover both Yugoslavia and VP debates. What does one do when there are 2 top stories and your design only has room for 1? Is it worthwhile to bother with an alternate design like this?
posted by smackfu (13 comments total)
(and here's what it looked like for future reference [sorry for the self-link])
posted by smackfu at 7:01 PM on October 5, 2000

What does one do when there are 2 top stories and your design only has room for 1?

"Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I go like this." "Well, then, don't go like that."

Seems pretty obvious to me -- if you're going to be a big ol' news site, then basing your design around the idea that major events only happen one at a time seems like you're just asking for trouble.
posted by webmutant at 7:14 PM on October 5, 2000

Personally, I think the only reason the VP debate is sharing the billing is because Bernard Shaw is moderating. Frankly, the events in Yugoslavia completely overshadow Cheney v. Lieberman. But CNN isn't about to shortchange their own anchor.
posted by solistrato at 7:29 PM on October 5, 2000

After wtching the VP debated I wish they were running for president.
posted by Mick at 8:17 PM on October 5, 2000

We have a popular revolution in Yugoslavia: hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to protest election rigging; the police joining them; the soldiers joining them; they take over the parliament, they take over the television, they throw out the dictator (who is nowhere to be seen) by sheer force of numbers and conviction of purpose... there is peace, almost nobody gets hurt, and the end result is to reinforce the rule of law. How cool is that?

Or we have a debate between two candidates for the high, powerful, influential office of vice president.

I'm surprised anybody even stopped to ask which was more important, much less that the two were judged to have equal significance.

posted by Mars Saxman at 9:18 PM on October 5, 2000

[Off topic: Mars is a pretty damn cool name.]
posted by highindustrial at 9:25 PM on October 5, 2000

Mars,I thought it was obvious the VP debate was of far more importance. Without the debate would people be able to make up their minds who to vote for?So what if there is a popular revolt in Yugoslavia. Who cares especially when you could be watching the VP debate. Its *the* debate. Anyway there were only about 500,000 people taking to the streets to overthrow Slov. I'm sure the fact that a CNN anchor was moderator played no part whatsover in CNNs decision to place the popular revolt in Yugoslavia with coverage of the VP debate.CNN Europe's default front page only shows the Yugoslavia revolt, I changed editions yesterday courtesy of their nice little pop-up.

posted by jay at 11:20 PM on October 5, 2000

Two things: I worked at a breaking news content site (which recently went bankrupt, got bought and is currently puttering along with the word ‘new’ attached to it’s old name) and we ran into this problem all the time. The editors would insist upon it, so we basically had to. I’m all for organically evolving websites, but when we had to do this it felt like a shot of gamma radiation. Bruce Website becomes Hulk-A-PORTAL! Not that bad, but you know what I’m saying.

I can’t think of any newspaper that had to deal with this, so there’s little historical context. (Please enlighten me to this, I’d love to see it.) Usually we just put together something like what CNN did there, two dueling banjos, leaving everything else to founder even further below, increase the load time and really piss the Creative Director off.

Veep debate: Mick, right on! They seemed so human and personable. Such a stark contrast. They both bellied their running mates’ and their own reputations.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 11:44 PM on October 5, 2000

Unlike jay, I haven't made the switch to CNN Europe, though I'm sure the focus would be less US-centric. But that's because I filled in their little survey, saying that I only visit CNN for US news anyway. After all, there are plenty of European sources for that kind of coverage.
posted by holgate at 3:49 AM on October 6, 2000

CNN will also dump the "everything else" off their front page in instances of sudden high traffic---leave only the one big story and a link that says something like "View the rest of today's news". (can't tell from the linked screen grab whether this was the case last night.) The last time I remember this happening was during the Payne Stewart runaway plane incident about a year ago; for a while there while the story was breaking it was the only one on the CNN home page.

I don't know if CNN's design is based on the idea that only one big story happens at a time; I think it's more about being stingy with the photographs than anything. Not that that's any better, of course.
posted by Sapphireblue at 7:01 AM on October 6, 2000

As an alternative to CNN US home page, you can always use the BBC's news page as a quick look at a Euro view of news headlines.
posted by jhiggy at 7:44 AM on October 6, 2000

It's called graceful degradation: the total content size of their front page is reduced in steps proportionally to the traffic increase, to keep load times semi-constant.

BTW: did anyone notice how fast we went from "You'll be fined cash money for saying the word 'foreign' in this building" to "CNN Europe" after Terrible Ted left?
posted by baylink at 9:14 AM on October 6, 2000

[Offtopic: Thanks, highindustrial. I'm rather fond of it.]
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:05 PM on October 6, 2000

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