Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the 2013 presidential inauguration on the same day called for an analysis of The Plain Dealer. The newspaper featured more media updates on the inauguration than on Martin Luther King Jr.
The website remained faithful toward the inauguration by providing people a permalink on Facebook. The description in the post talked about how the site would give live coverage on the event all day. I ended up clicking on the link and found that the site covered all types of multimedia. Twitter updates popped up one by one from the narrow column placed in the center of the page. Detailed articles featured how the president’s day scheduled out. Posts included photos and YouTube videos that contained raw footage of Obama sworn into office. The page retweeted random people talking about how fabulous the day would be. Commenters inserted their input below.
That’s the power of social media for you. I also enjoyed that the site presented all the incoming information in a vertical fashion. People who missed the first minutes could start at the top of the column and read from the start.
Now the reporters, as mentioned in my earlier blog post, filled the articles with pure detail. The writers wrote down plenty of movements and conversation, documenting everything from what arm Obama moved to every word that he uttered. Oh, wait: never mind. The Associated Press wrote that article. The agency also occupied most, if not all, of the articles attributed under the live coverage link. The Plain Dealer appeared lazy from using AP as its primary source. The total number of articles that I saw my beat's staff write was one. One. And it was just a type up of the inaugural address that the president gave. It's great that the paper used good attributions from a trusted source. But I recommend that the staff send in their own reporters for such a special occasion as a second term.
The only other thing I'd suggest to the editors would be that they keep the information about important events up longer. I came home later Monday and found that the few articles that The Plain Dealer had about the inauguration almost disappeared. And again, there wasn’t that much coverage on what Cleveland did in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But the inauguration counts as something Martin Luther King Jr. would have approved of.
A new semester meant a new beat assignment. Wednesday marked the day that I received one called The Plain Dealer. I only heard of the beat's name once or twice, but I hoped for a different experience with it in comparison to the old beat I studied last semester. The Arizona Republic’s website included repeated headlines and content. Uneven rows and columns also didn’t help me lower my feelings of disappointment for the page. I hoped for better.
My wish came true. With an immediate glance I couldn't help but be a little impressed by the design. The paper presented only two columns for its format. The blue bubbly tabs reminded me of the font that Black Entertainment Television (BET)'s website used. The effects created big and comprehensive letters. And the content even served as interesting. The reporters included words that made readers feel like they attended the events. One sentence in an article featured Obama whispering to his youngest daughter that he “did it” (got sworn into office) while embracing her with a hug. The author added an action. That action is what encouraged me toward reading more.
Navigating around also wasn't too difficult. Click the white arrow to the right of the blue "Top Stories" tab and a drop box appears. It's an easy way for you to explore different categories that include sports, entertainment and politics. I did run into some trouble with the plus signs on the left side of each article, though. I have no idea what those are for. I thought they represented the number of comments people put on the page, but I’m still not sure.
In the bottom-right corner of one of the articles I noticed a list called "Most Comments." It showed the number of remarks people made about particular articles on the site. The top five dealt with sports. But click on any of the comments and the page guides you to cleveland.com/interact. A thorough archive of the community's thoughts about reported content pops up. It includes blogs and videos. The Arizona Republic didn't have any of this.
I expected good social media from this online news source since it established an interactive page. The Plain Dealer used its Facebook and Twitter pages a lot. It even had an RSS feature. So far, so good with my new beat.