New Media Formats

With traditional newspapers, it was very clear how newsworthy a story was based upon whats section it was in, page it was on, placement on the page, presence of picture(s) and size of the headline. With some news sites it is not as clear. News organizations have had to adapt to fit mobile and online formats to be aesthetically pleasing to the consumer.

Web designer Andy Rutledge has been highly critical of how news organizations present their news. According to a 2005 blog post by him, most online news sites are “a chaotic and incoherent mess.” He named such prominent news organizations as the New York Times and The Houston Chronicle as having terrible design.

The layout of the homepage of the New York Times, the premier newspaper in the country, makes it hard for users to discern what the top stories are. Rutledge disliked the aesthetic of the site so much he redesigned it on July 17, 2011 without request (the redesign was of course not implemented).

Home page of the the New York Times.

The Boston Globe’s new online format lends itself more to readers. Rutledge even tweeted that the new site was “sexy.”

Home page of, The Boston Globe's subscription-based site.

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing,  the HTML5 format can adapt itself to fit the screen of whatever device it is being read on be it cell phone, laptop, or tablet according to an article by Jeff Sonderman on the Poynter Institute’s website. According to the article, many other news organizations have built separate “phone-friendly sites” or “tablet-optimized Web apps” so that their audience can get their news through the platform of their preference.

For apps, the small-screened nature of phones and portable devices force the interfaces content-light and often require clicking links to even understand what a story is about.

Screen shots of the New York Times' mobile app show that it is hard to see what a story is about until the link is clicked.



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